Making connections between the classroom and home

The Concord Consortium’s Teacher Ambassador program commemorates our 25th anniversary by recognizing 25 outstanding teachers who have included our digital inquiry resources into their STEM classrooms. We congratulate them on their innovation and creativity.

Thomas Troy, Milton Academy, Milton, MA

Teacher Ambassador Thomas Troy

Thomas Troy’s dream vacation includes a trip to the Arctic “to witness rapid climate change,” but the best adventure he’s ever had was much closer to the equator. He and his family spent five weeks on a homestay in Costa Rica where they took classes to learn Spanish, which were “both rigorous and rewarding.” While his family “took advantage of opportunities to get to know as many Costa Ricans (or Ticos) as possible, such as local clerks, waiters, and teachers,” they also found time to go snorkeling, bird watching, and swimming.

Thomas learned about the Concord Consortium from his wife, a middle school science teacher, after she searched online for hands-on activities. Now his own 8th grade physical science students inspect their houses with infrared (IR) cameras as part of our Next Step Learning project, doing their “home” work assignments quite literally. Thomas especially appreciates the “direct and simple” heat transfer experiments that illustrate the fundamental scientific processes.

And he is thrilled by the “fantastic connections” students make between their class experiments and their energy home inspection. For example, he describes how a student using an IR camera might notice a cool spot on the wall or ceiling and suspect possible water damage because they had learned in class that evaporation is a cooling process.

According to Thomas, today’s classroom technologies can be used to “place students at the center of learning” and allow them to explore cause and effect relationships—like a ceiling stain caused by water. But he’d be happy to have access to even more instructional videos on how to implement interactive software in his classroom. He says, “We’ve become conditioned to learn from YouTube style videos.”

Last spring, when one of his students was going through a rough patch in and out of school, not handing in assignments or completing them below her ability, Thomas was “reminded of the power of compassion.” He took a moment to acknowledge the difficult time she was having, and she responded to that small act with “extraordinary dedication” to finish out the school year. Like an IR camera, Thomas can see what’s not visible to the human eye, including the “latent potential in all students.”

Favorite ice cream: Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food