Tyler Dufrene, a Hahnville High School educator, has been named an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow. With that honor, he will relocate to Washington, D.C. for one year to work in the national arena promoting STEM education and advocating for change.
“I’ll be working with the House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and Labor,” Dufrene said. “My job will include drafting legislation, conducting meetings, writing speeches and talking points, conducting research, negotiating with Representatives and possibly Senators of both parties and anything else asked of me.”
Dufrene is one of 15 STEM teachers from across the United States who was selected for the AEF Program, which provides a unique opportunity for educators to apply their extensive classroom knowledge and experiences to their host offices to inform federal STEM education efforts. He is the only Louisiana educator chosen this year.
He said he is both honored and humbled to represent Louisiana in the national arena.
“I’m ecstatic to have a seat at the table with lawmakers to help shape legislation and offer solutions that will improve the education system in America,” he said. “I will do my best to bring awareness to the issues we face on a daily basis in education, both inside and outside the classroom … I am excited to network with distinguished educators from across the country and to learn new, effective strategies from them.”
Dufrene has been an educator since 2014.
“I began my teaching career at Central Lafourche High School as an Algebra I and Algebra II teacher,” he said. “I then taught various mathematics courses at the Career Magnet Center for one year before moving to Hahnville High School in 2016 as the AP Physics and Chemistry teacher.”
The 2022-2023 school year would his seventh year at HHS.
“Over the past six years, I’ve taught AP Physics and Chemistry I, as well as robotics for one year,” Dufrene said. “I am beyond grateful to have the most ambitious and passionate students a teacher could ask for. I do my best to promote a learning environment where students feel safe to take educational risks and explore the curiosities of their minds. In return, they inspire me to be a lifelong learner and to be the best teacher I can possibly be.”
Dufrene said he often jokes with his students that he is not a morning person, but because of them he wakes up each morning enthusiastic to come to work.
“Which doesn’t seem like work at all,” Dufrene said. “I also love my phenomenal coworkers who offer me unwavering support and push me to pursue my dreams.”
Dufrene first learned of the fellowship program through a conference he attended a few years ago. In November of last year he saw an advertisement for teachers to apply and decided to go for it, all the while not expecting to be chosen.
“It’s a very competitive and rigorous process,” he said. “It involved several letters of recommendations, along with writing numerous essays. In March, I learned that I was a semi-finalist and was invited to participate in virtual interviews. I interviewed for several positions with the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense. In May, I learned that I was selected as a finalist for a Congressional Fellowship, which is sponsored by the Department of Energy.”
In June, Dufrene flew to D.C., where he went through additional interviews with various Congressional offices and committees.
“A few weeks later, I received confirmation that I was officially selected as a fellow with the House Committee on Education and Labor,” he said, adding that his fellowship officially begins August 15 and lasts until July 2023.
He said he intends to return to St. Charles Parish after the fellowship is over.
“At the end of my fellowship I do anticipate returning to my teaching position at Hahnville High School, but I would really love to return to the district in an administrative capacity,” Dufrene said. “Regardless, I’m eager to return and share my once-in-a-lifetime experiences with colleagues and students. I’m placing all my faith and trust in God above.”
Dufrene received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a concentration in education from Nicholls State University in 2015. He then earned his master’s degree in educational leadership from the American College of Education in 2018.
He serves as a school board member in the Lafourche Parish School District.
Since becoming a teacher, Dufrene has won several notable awards, including being a 2021 state finalist (with national results pending) for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the 2021 Outstanding Science Teacher of the Year by the Louisiana Science Teachers Association, the 2021 Bob Thompson Excellence in Energy Education award from The NEED Project, the 2021 Grand Prize Winner of the NSTA/Shell Science Lab Regional Challenge and the 2018 Essie Beck Rising Star Science Education award from the Louisiana Science Teachers Association.