At Camelot Intermediate School in Brookings, South Dakota, fifth graders design their own experiments, conduct research, document their findings with videos and photos, and compile the resulting data into compelling presentations, thanks to science teacher Camrin Vaux. The innovative educator creates individualized contracts with students to keep them accountable for meeting their learning goals. At Camelot, teachers build “quests” to guide students through the curriculum, with learning benchmarks conferring Page, Squire and Knight status. Vaux uses classroom, district and state assessment data to design her instruction, creating personalized pathways to proficiency for each learner. Her students spread out in the hallway to learn about states of matter and work with local university professors for project-based learning. Last year, Vaux’s students researched the effectiveness of mask mandates and shared their research with classmates.
Vaux works tirelessly to improve the instructional experience for all learners. When Camelot introduced Mass Customized Learning (MCL), an approach focused on meeting individual learning needs, Vaux was among the first to implement elements of the program in her classroom. Now the MCL facilitator, she tracks schoolwide data on science learning objectives, leads within the personalized learning committee, creates lesson plans and leads visitors on MCL tours. When the pandemic moved classes online in spring 2020, Vaux spent countless hours mastering Canvas and other technology, then served as the go-to guru for educators throughout the district.
Vaux leads Camelot’s fifth grade team, mentors new teachers, and has served on building and district continuous improvement committees, as well as the principal’s advisory committee. She directed a local volleyball club, has taught Sunday School and led confirmation groups at her church, and is a member of the Brookings Fire Department Auxiliary. As Camelot’s staff wellness coordinator, Vaux organizes group exercise classes, wellness lectures, and an annual 5K and 10K race. She took part in a committee that raised more than $70,000 to equip a staff workout room on campus. Vaux’s wellness efforts have saved considerable money on the district’s health insurance premiums, much of which has been returned to staff members as premium discounts.
For the last eight years Vaux has worked with the National Inventors Hall of Fame to provide Camp Invention at Camelot Intermediate during the summer. The week long experience has ranged from serving 35-90 K-6 campers in a confidence-boosting STEM summer camp where kids build creative inventions and lasting friendships. Vaux directed the camp that is led by certified local educators, offering new and exciting hands-on activities every year.
Vaux earned a bachelor’s in 2006 from Dakota State University and a master’s of education in 2012 from South Dakota State University. She is working on her EDD from the University of Sioux Falls and plans to graduate in 2024.
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