NAGT > Sections > Central Section > Section Awards

Central Section

Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan,
Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, and southern and western Ontario

NAGT Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Award

Information about the Award. (On the National NAGT Website)

In addition to the Sectional Winner Awards, in the Central Section, State OEST winners receive:

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2013 Section OEST Award Winner

Mary Lestina is in her twelfth year of teaching at City High School in Iowa City, Iowa. She currently teaches Ecology, Physical Geology, and Weather and Climate trimester electives for juniors and seniors, senior level Physics, and freshmen level Foundations of Science III. Mary graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in 2000, majoring in All Sciences and Earth Science Education with a minor in Meteorology. She earned her Master's of Science Education Degree from the University of Iowa in 2005 with an emphasis in Earth Science. In 2010, she was awarded the Excellence in Science Teaching Award from the Iowa Academy of Sciences.

As an active member of the Science Department, Mary has worked on curriculum review and standards alignment projects and was part of a team of teachers recognizing the need to extend the Earth Science offerings through Earth Science Trimester Electives. She has worked with science and special education teachers incorporating reading strategies, differentiated learning, and understanding by design strategies into her classroom giving students the best experiences possible. Mary is an active member of the National Science Teachers' Association and the Iowa Academy of Sciences (IAS), presented at several national and local science teacher conferences, and has severed as IAS Membership Committee Chair and a member of the IAS Recognition Committee.

Mary has sponsored the Science Club since 2000, and in the past has sponsored the Environmental, Rocket, and Global Perspectives Clubs at City High School. Mary's teaching philosophy is to encourage all students to connect their lives to their education. Her positive attitude, high expectations of every learner, willingness to improve, and a value of every student's unique abilities makes learning more meaningful for students within her classroom.

2010 Section OEST Award Winner

De Anna Tiben is the 2010 Central Section recipient of NAGT's OEST Award.

2009 Section OEST Award Winner

Dennis ("Denny") Dougherty graduated from Western Michigan University in 1970 with a BS, majoring in Earth Science, Anthropology and Sociology. In 1976, he earned the MA in Secondary Education from Northern Michigan University. Denny's career in science education began in 1973 and spans nearly 30 years of teaching seventh and eighth grade science with the Sault Area Public Schools. He retired from teaching in 2007, but continues to be actively involved in informal science education with Lake Superior State University's Kemp Geology Museum, teacher workshops, and geology field trips.

Denny's passion for science education and commitment to active, engaged learning are exemplary. His legacy lives on, as geology teaching kits he developed continue to be available in his district and through catalogs, providing teachers with activities that encourage students to become involved scientists as they perform experiments and make observations.

Denny led development of the Natural Science Park in Sault Ste. Marie beginning with a small grant of $3,000 in 2005. His "contagious energy" garnered more than $40,000 in donations, and the park is compared by one of his nominators to a 2000-mile Great Lakes geology field trip. The park includes six 10-ton "rock cycle" boulders, a 16-ton block of fossiliferous Devonian limestone, and large ore specimens from the region's mines. Interpretive signs and materials incorporate Michigan's science teaching benchmarks in Earth, life and physical sciences, making the park an outdoor learning laboratory for teachers, students, and the community.

Throughout his career, Dennis Dougherty has fostered a love of science in countless students, while building their critical thinking skills in a supportive environment. He has shared his expertise with innumerable colleagues, and led transformative informal science education efforts to reach the wider community.

2008 Section OEST Award Winner

Teresa Lee Huckleberry is the 2008 Central Section recipient of the NAGT's OEST Award.

2007 Section OEST Award Winner

Mr. Paul Varsho is the 2007 Central Section recipient of NAGT's OEST Award. Paul graduated in 1977 from the University of Wisconsin - Madison with a BA in Secondary Education. In 1983, he received a MA in Professional Development from the University of Wisconsin - Stout.

Paul is an outstanding example of dedication, knowledge, ingenuity, and professionalism in an educator. A teachers at Menomonie Middle School for 27 years, Paul embodies the philosophy that "each child should develop a love of learning and of the natural world, to question why and how things occur, and to develop the thinking skills needed to be literate, contributing citizens in modern society." He uses creative hands-on classroom activities and home and community based assignments to engage his students. Paul is known for his enthusiasm which "is backed up by a solid understanding of how to affect student learning, and the ability to reach the whole range of students from the most gifted to the most challenged."

Paul has been a science Olympiad coach since 1987, going to National six time. He is currently involved in development of the Harvard-based SPARCS teaching reform assessment initiative. He has been selected to participate in a UCAR workshop of Modeling in the geosciences and a NASA Program to evaluate Centennial of Flight Engineering Design Challenges. Paul has also been involved with the Boy Scouts of America, is active in the Wisconsin Central Education Association, and is a member of the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers.

His accomplishments include a Fullbright Memorial Fund Teacher Award in 2002, JASON VI Teacher Argonaut Selection in 1995, the Wisconsin State Science Teachers Regional Award for Excellence in Science Education in 1990, and receiving National Board Certification in the Area of Adolescent/Young Adulthood Science in 2002.

Section Recipients

  • 2006: Mr. Aaron Spur - Price Lab School - Northern University High School, IA
  • 2004: Matthew Leone - Libertyville, IL
  • 2003: Craig Wolter

2007 State OEST Award Recipients

Iowa - Ms. Amanda Schiller of Donnellson, IA, is highly respected by her colleagues, students, and community. Amanda is described as a "supportive and encouraging" teacher who "takes lessons to the next level, involving hands-on excellence in her classroom, resulting in an open-ended research based opportunity for students to formulate their own scientific ideas." She has taught earth science for four years and is known for her adaptability and cooperative spirit. Amanda is also known for her ability to motivate student learning. "She hooks them into learning about earth science and then feeds these concepts into their immense curiosity about science." She contributes to the community through a number of volunteer activities and has participated in a number of professional development opportunities.

Ohio - Mrs. Chantelle M. Rose of St. Paris, OH, has been teaching for eleven years and is very active in professional development, curriculum development, and bringing "real science" to life for her students. Chantelle is considered "a dedicated, student-centered, creative teacher" by her colleagues, students, and community. She encourages and empowers her students to participate in scientific research through her professional development contacts. Chantelle is a creative and innovative teacher who works with all students to achieve in science. She created a science course, "Science in Ohio," to motivate students to understand and appreciate the science in their state. Chantelle's professional services is exemplary and she is known for bringing science from her classroom into the community and beyond.

State Recipients

  • 2006: Kirk Enzenauer - Coon Rapids, MN
  • 2004: Philip Lacey - East Liverpool, Ohio; Ken Fiscus - Albert Lea, Minnesota