“Auf Wiedersehen, Good-Bye” – Farewell from the Library’s 2019-2020 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow

This post was written by Amara Alexander, the 2019-20 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the Library of Congress. We thank her for her many contributions this year!

Amara Alexander

For the 2019-2020 school year, I left the classroom and accepted a role as the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the Library of Congress. The year began with excitement as I explored the collections and the beautiful city of Washington, D.C. Leaving now is bittersweet because I wish to step inside the Library and view the Great Hall, walk through the tunnels, and personally say good-bye and thank you to friends and colleagues I have met during this time. As I bid farewell, here are a few of my highlights from this year.

I explored the digitized collections of the Library and located primary sources for teachers to incorporate into their STEM classrooms. Amazed to find rich resources, I wrote blog posts featuring my favorite items from the collections. Lessons I created were shared in local schools around the D.C. metro area. Walking back into the classroom for a brief moment reminded me why I decided to pursue the courageous profession of education. Something magical happens when students learn something new, and I missed seeing that ‘aha’ moment on the faces of students.  

I drifted into various reading rooms, including Manuscripts, Prints and Photographs, and Science and Technology. I read the papers of the Wright Brothers, observed Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, and studied images of the Tuskegee Airmen. In the Performing Arts reading room, I read the score of my favorite musical, The Sound of Music. Sitting for hours, I was in awe, reading and singing along in my head the lyrics of songs written by Tony and Academy Award winner Oscar Hammerstein II. In my mind, I would see the final adaptations of the songs, but instead I found something more beautiful than imagined. I saw the engineering/design process in the very drafts Hammerstein wrote himself on yellow legal pad paper and pieces of paper that mimicked receipts. The lyrics were penned, then marked out, and the words we know today were added in. His notes reminded me of the iterative processes I teach my students – STEM is everywhere. Hammerstein had the words of a song, yet he continued to improve the lyrics, making additions and subtractions to create the melodious songs we hear in his musicals today. 

Freight train operations…At the end of the trip, the engine goes off to the roundhouse as [the] conductor waves good-bye

My year at the Library of Congress has been phenomenal. From mid-day concerts hosted by the Folklife Division, attending the Gershwin Prize tribute concert, walking through the tunnels, and chats with Capitol Police, I truly enjoyed my time at the Library of Congress. It is a year I will forever remember. 

To the Einstein Fellows of 2019-2020, I love each of you. This time we embarked on together continues as we return to our classrooms. Leaving this arena for another, we speak with more passion moving forward with our work as advocates and leaders in STEM education. 

To the Library’s Learning and Innovation Office staff, thank you for gifting me this opportunity and welcoming me into your office for the past few months. I am beyond grateful and will think fondly of my time at the Library of Congress. 

So in the words of Hammerstein, So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good-bye.”

 

 

 

8 Comments

  1. Vivian Awumey
    June 30, 2020 at 11:41 am

    It was such a pleasure working with you, Amara! Thanks for posting those wonderful albums of science-related primary sources in the TPS Teachers Network.

  2. Michael and ilene Berson
    June 30, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    Amara,
    It was so nice meeting you! Thank you for sharing all your work! We had a great response when we used your Earth Day post with our methods students.

  3. Marylou O’ Donnell
    June 30, 2020 at 2:36 pm

    Great piece Amara! My how you’ve grown from tentative writer to confident author. It’s been a privilege getting to know you and sharing this Fellowship with you! The Library of Congress rocks!

  4. Amara
    June 30, 2020 at 3:11 pm

    Thank you, Vivian. I enjoyed working with you as well, and I look forward to sharing the TPS Network resources with teachers I encounter.

  5. Amara
    June 30, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    Thank you, Mike and Ilene. Glad your preservice teachers enjoyed.

  6. Rachelle Warren, Ed.D.
    June 30, 2020 at 7:43 pm

    June 30, 2020

    To Professor Alexander:

    Thank you for accepting the opportunity to learn and share at the LOC as a 2019-2020 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow. Your message above recounts the experience in detail, and helps readers like myself understand how significant this one-year journey has been for you and others who have and will continue to benefit from your expertise. Once again, many thanks for contributing a year of your time to such important research.

    Sincerely,

    Rachelle Warren, Ed.D.
    Educator

    rw

  7. Tammy Range Alexander
    June 30, 2020 at 7:59 pm

    I remember when you received the news that you would spend one year at the Library of Congress. Where did the time go? I I learned with you as you provided a different look into the Tuskegee Airman. Finding a recipe hand written by Rosa Parks was awesome. And the opportunity to read Dr. King’s speech-priceless. I have enjoyed your journey.

  8. Shakiyya
    July 1, 2020 at 11:35 am

    Amara,

    You are the reason I applied to the AEF program. I was scrolling through Twitter in August of 2019 and stopped on Amara Lynn’s post, “You could be next! Apply”. We had never met before nor did I know about such a fellowship. The post contained the link to the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship (AEF) Program and an application for the 2020-2021 term. “Why wait? 30 years of #EinsteinFellows and your students need you to picture yourself here.”(@AEF_Program)

    I looked at the photo of Amara, a beautiful Black STEM educator. I studied the words. I saw myself. I believed I could, so I did.
    Thank you for leading and contributing to STEM education! I wish you continued success and joy!

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