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USC Aiken Teacher Candidate Receives Award for Innovative Classroom Instruction

Photo Caption: James Walsh receives the South Carolina Association for Middle Level Education (SCAMLE) 2023 Teacher Candidate to Watch award at the 46th Annual SCAMLE Conference on March 3-5 in Myrtle Beach, SC.

James Walsh to graduate with Honors this May

 Aiken, SC (03/15/2023) — The South Carolina Association for Middle Level Education (SCAMLE) recently presented University of South Carolina Aiken (USC Aiken) undergraduate James Walsh with the 2023 Teacher Candidate to Watch award. This award recognizes an outstanding middle school teaching intern committed to middle-level teaching with a strong awareness of young adolescent development. Walsh formally received the award as part of the 46th Annual SCAMLE Conference on March 3-5 in Myrtle Beach, SC.

"This is a testament to the hard work you do for middle level education and for your students on a daily basis. We want to celebrate you and your hard work with the thousands of other middle level educators across our state!" said Dr. David McDonald, SCAMLE's Executive Director.

Walsh is consistently recognized by university faculty, mentoring teachers, and peers for his contributions to USC Aiken and the education of young adolescents. "Each of the lessons I have observed offered opportunities for hands-on exploration, collaboration, and active engagement while making real-world connections," said Dr. Deborah McMurtrie, Associate Professor in the School of Education. I have been consistently impressed by James' preparedness level, professionalism, creativity, and rapport with students."

His internship coaching teacher, Christy Richardson, said it was an "absolute pleasure to work with James this semester. In January, he joined our 7th-grade math classroom at Horse Creek Academy, and he has delivered relevant authentic lessons, and built relationships with the students. Mr. Walsh is a natural in this field and watching him lead a classroom has been a privilege. Motivating middle school students in the math classroom can be somewhat challenging, but Mr. Walsh has a natural ability to get the students excited about learning. My students and I have been blessed to work with him this semester."

Walsh recently submitted a manuscript entitled Using Music to Teach Math in Middle School for publication in the 2023 SCAMLE Journal. In this article, he asserts that music is engaging, can help relieve anxiety, and is an excellent tool in the middle-level mathematics classroom. He explains ways in which lyrics, melodies, and movement can be used to enhance learning. For example, students can learn the quadratic formula song to help with procedural memory, identify fractions in musical composition and notation, write class songs to help retain the information, and rate songs and use the data to calculate the mean, median, and mode.

According to Walsh's supervisor, Dr. Bridget Coleman, "James exemplifies the high standards promoted by AMLE's This We Believe. At this early point in his career, he is already exhibiting leadership potential contributing professionally with innovative conference presentations and a journal publication." Last spring, he co-presented a session at the South Carolina Association for Middle Level Education (SCAMLE) conference sharing his research on an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning mathematics. This year, he will be the lead presenter for a 2023 SCAMLE session entitled Energize the Math Classroom with Cross-Curricular Connections, focusing on utilizing novel instructional strategies and interdisciplinary learning centers to engage middle school students.

Additionally, Mr. Walsh is an SC Teaching Fellow. This highly selective program provides fellowships for up to 200 seniors from across the state each year who exhibit high academic achievement, a history of service to their school and community, and a desire to teach in South Carolina. Teaching Fellows participate in advanced enrichment programs, additional professional development opportunities, and service projects. James is expected to graduate with honors from USC Aiken with a degree in middle-level education with a concentration in mathematics in May 2023. He will also complete the requirements to add a Gifted and Talented endorsement.

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