Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science (MS)² teacher Florentia Spires was recently selected as one of the 22 Albert Einstein Fellows for 2013-14.

As a fellow, Spires has been assigned to work full time at the National Science Foundation where she will review K-12 educational policy. This is Spires’ second year as a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teacher at the middle school.

“I am very grateful and appreciative of this great opportunity,” Spires said. “The exposure to learning about public policy as it relates to public education will be very rewarding.”

The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program is one of the federal government’s most elite opportunities for advanced professional development for STEM educators. The fellows are selected in a rigorous application and interview process from a competitive, nationwide pool of applicants.

Spires was a Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana from 1986 to 1988. She worked at Peace Corps headquarters in Botswana, training new volunteers entering the country, until 1990. Spires continued working in Botswana as an expatriate until 1997. When she returned to the United States, she continued her teaching career in the Prince George’s County Public Schools, the Maryland school system where she graduated from high school. In 2004, she obtained a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with a focus on K-12 science education from Loyola University in Baltimore.

Spires has dedicated her teaching career to the development of quality academic curricula, exposing students, parents, educators and community members to ways of incorporating STEM concepts in their everyday lives.

Spires said she believes that it is critical that students early on have quality teachers who expose them to STEM content areas.

“Research studies indicate that students should have an inkling of the area of interest they enjoy and feel strongly about pursuing by the seventh grade,” Spires said. “This awareness will provide students with tools to make stronger decisions about which programs and extracurricular activities to immerse themselves in to hone their skills and talents.”