2020 Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Award Winners

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Outstanding Earth Science Teacher (OEST) awards are given for "exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the Earth Sciences at the pre-college level." Any teacher or other K-12 educator who covers a significant amount of Earth science content with their students is eligible. Ten national finalists are selected, one from each NAGT regional section. Some sections also recognize state winners. Individuals may submit an application themselves or nominate a colleague for the award.

SECTION WINNERS

Central Section - Anthony Thomas

Anthony Thomas has been teaching for 15 years and is currently teaches geoscience courses at Garrett High School. He earned his Bachelors in science education at the University of Michigan-Flint in 2004, where he also dual-majored in mathematics education. Upon graduating, Anthony started his teaching career in Arizona, outside of Phoenix. He taught at Willow Canyon High School for 4 years and earned his MEd in Curriculum and Instruction through Northern Arizona University. As a rockhound, Anthony loved his time in Arizona, finding natural beauty and inspiration everywhere he looked. He later shared his love of geology and the landscape of the American Southwest in 2016 by designing and orchestrating a trip for Indiana high school students to do a 9-day road trip throughout Arizona. This road trip helped students build a deeper connection to the geoscience concepts and was a perfect alternative for students wanting to earn Earth Science credit in high school.

Anthony understands the difficulties facing Earth Science education and constantly finds unique ways to bring more meaning to his curriculum. He believes students would be more excited about geoscience if they had opportunities to see it in action and to witness the amazing research leading to solutions of many of society's problems. In 2018, Anthony brought his students to the GSA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis. This experience was a game changer not just for him, but for his students as well. Students returned from the conference energized to start field research. Following the passion of his students, Anthony received several grants to start a field research team in 2019. The field research team's posters placed 1st and 2nd in the Indiana State Virtual Student Research Symposium hosted by Purdue University that fall.

Teaching in a 1:1 computing school, Anthony heavily incorporates technology as part of his curriculum. He also has designed his own curriculum based on the Earth Science Literacy Standards, which provides more meaning and connection for the students. He utilizes ArcGIS Online frequently with his class to help build their geospatial skills as well as potential career interests. He also embeds activities derived from the GLOBE Protocols to encourage students to pursue citizen science.

Anthony loves teaching and is excited to share his love of geoscience with his students every day. He constantly reinvents his classroom and is always looking for new and exciting ways to engage students with geoscience content.


Eastern Section - Bonnie J Keller

Bonnie Keller started teaching Earth Science in 1993 after graduating from Old Dominion University. Several moves led her to teach in several school systems in Virginia, and a brief stint in New Hampshire. After obtaining her Master's in Science Education from Montana State University in 2010, she moved to Northern VA where she has been ever since. A long-time member of the ESPRIT list-serve for Earth Science teachers, Bonnie learned about the NY Earth Science Reference Tables from fellow members and adapted them for Virginia. She has been using them in her classroom ever since and has seen a positive impact on her students' understanding of Earth Science. If approved, she will be presenting these to the VA Association of Science Teachers yearly professional development meeting so that teachers across the state can see them and use them for their own classrooms. She is an active member online of several teacher-oriented discussion groups, as well as groups oriented towards Fossils, Minerals, and Environmental Science. Bonnie is currently the Vice President of the VA Earth Science Teachers Association and sits on the board for the VA Association of Science Teachers as the VESTA representative. In addition to teaching Earth Science, Bonnie is also a board member for the VA Herpetological Society and does live reptile programs. She currently teaches at Colgan High School in Prince William County, VA, where she has just finished her second year. She is looking forward to teaching both Earth Science and Oceanography next year. When she is not at school she is at home with her husband and son, along with 4 cats and a Pembroke Welsh Corgi.


Midcontinent - Angie Nelson

Angie Nelson is a teacher in the Wichita Public Schools in Wichita, KS. She has earned her B.S. in Elementary Teaching from Wichita State and just completed her 7th year of teaching. She taught elementary for 2 years and finished out her science teaching this year in middle school. She is now working as an instructional coach helping teachers learn and grow in their careers. She has studied at NASA as a pre-service teacher, an honor she was chosen for by the university. She won the Mid-Continent OEST award in 2018, which she felt was an amazing honor. Angie is they type of educator to reach and teach the whole child. Her positive attitude and love of learning is infectious. She creates new ways for students to learn science phenomenon complete with cooperative learning groups, games, challenges and hands-on labs. She truly brings science to life for students who may not love science, have had any science experience and the students she serves within the community who may lack opportunities. During the summer she travels across the United States to science museums or locations that are of interest in regards to science so she can show her students the next year. It helps them see and understand science outside of the classroom. She is always developing materials to teach her lessons or for her students to use while learning. She inspires others of all content areas because of her commitment to children, science and education.

North England - Tara O'Brien

For over 2 decades, Tara O'Brien has been teaching earth/environmental science and field-based science courses at Hampshire Regional High School in Westhampton, MA. She is an accomplished PhD scientist and educator and employs her knowledge of science toward creating effective, meaningful, and relevant learning activities. Tara employs student-centered and project-based pedagogies in order to promote experiential learning opportunities that are personal and relevant to students of all learning abilities. She is committed to making use of the acres of forest, open lands, and streams around her school to effectively enact phenomenological teaching and learning. Tara's continuing efforts to bring Earth Science knowledge and issues alive for her students have been recognized locally and statewide for the past 20 years. For example, in 2012 she earned the state's Energy and Environmental Affairs Office and the Department of Environmental Protection Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education Award and a Green Team Award. Tara is part of a collaboration with the Western MA Audubon Society to facilitate curriculum that teaches about our ecological footprint and how to conduct forest resiliency assessments. In collaboration with middle school colleagues, she was awarded Community Grants Foundation funding, which is being used to teach about atmospheric carbon dioxide and climate change using drones to monitor air quality (using Pocketlab). For years, Tara participated in the MA Department of Fisheries and Wildlife's Atlantic Salmon Restoration project and continues that work with students by raising brook trout from eggs to fry for local stocking. In addition, her students have begun developing initiatives to grow lettuce for the school cafeteria, recycle and compost cafeteria food, and replace plasticware with flatware. In addition, as part of a school-wide initiative, Tara works to ease students' transition to high school and identify at-risk students for meaningful interventions. Looking forward, Tara is hopeful that the school can acquire a greenhouse that can be used to grow food for the cafeteria and to develop a hydroponics class.

North Central - Spencer Cody

Spencer Cody is in his my third year of teaching science in the Edmunds Central School District. He lives in Mina with his wife, Jill, and two daughters Teagan and Temperance. He grew up in Veblen, South Dakota, and graduated from Veblen High School in Veblen, South Dakota, in 2001. In 2005 he graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, with a BA in Biology Middle School and Secondary Education. He went on to teach 7-12 Science in Hoven for the next 11 years. During this time he earned an MS in Chemistry from SDSU in 2010. When he is not teaching science, he is always learning and researching science because he is fortunate enough to teach something that he is very passionate about. His years in learning, researching, and teaching science have taken him through many varied research experiences in the lab, in the field, at sea, even a mile below Earth's surface, and across many subfields in science. His innovative approach for science education centers on three components: hands-on, real-world research, and place-based education. He believes that students who are able to work directly with science in a hands-on mode of learning are far more likely to be engaged by the subject and benefit from its academic impacts. He believes this to be especially true with Earth Science and strives to bring his varied experiences into the classroom and take students out of the classroom into the field to bring Earth Science standards to life for his students.

Pacific Northwest - Steven Tebor

Steven Tebor has been working in the field of education for over 35 years. He has been employed at Oregon City High School since 1993 teaching Earth Science, Marine Science and STEM Physics. Furthermore, he was a director of a Migrant Head Start serving children from birth to five years, which provided comprehensive child development services to economically disadvantaged children and families. The majority of the families were migrant and seasonal farm workers. He also served in the Peace Corps for two years in Fundong, Cameroon. Fundong is approximately 15 miles away from Lake Nyos, which exploded on August 21, 1986 killing approximately 1700 people. Steven was one of the first people at Lake Nyos shortly after the disaster. Having a degree in Geology, he worked with renowned scientists from around the world investigating the Lake Nyos disaster. He received recognition of his work from the USGS Lake Nyos Disaster Team, US Ambassador of Cameroon and the Director of the Peace Corps. Furthermore, he co-authored several research articles/photos that were published in various scientific journals. Given Steven's global experiences, he has always emphasized the importance of education with his students. He treasures the opportunities he has had working with students and their families throughout the years.{br clear]

Southeastern Section - Covey Denton

Covey Denton teaches at Sallie B Howard School of the Arts in Wilson, NC. She has been teaching for the past 6 years at Greenfield School in Wilson, NC. Ms. Denton earned a BS in Applied Sciences and a MS in Biomedical Engineering from UNC-Chapel Hill and holds a Masters in Education and STEM Certification from the NASA Endeavor program at Adams State University. Ms. Denton has earned recognition at both the state and national level including: NSTA Sylvia Shugrue Award for Elementary Educators (2020), Vernier Award for Elementary Educators (2019), NSTA Maitland P Simmons Award (2019), NMLSTA Paul DeHart Hurd Award (2018), NSTA Robert E. Yager Excellence in Teaching Award (2017) and the NCSTA District 3 Outstanding Middle School Teacher Award (2016). Ms. Denton has mentored her students who have been recognized for many accomplishments including: Samsung Solve for Tomorrow State Winner (2019), State Finalist in the 3M Young Scientist Challenge (2020), Discovery-CITGO Fueling Education Grand Prize winner (2020) and Regional Winners in the NSTA Exploravision competition in 2020 and 2019. Ms. Denton is actively involved with the National Mid-Level Science Teacher Association, serving on their board. She is also a fellow in the North Carolina Leadership Association Leadership program and active in her state science teacher's association.

Ms. Denton believes that frequent learning experiences with integration across multiple subjects allows students to develop a strong sense of interconnectivity. Application to real world problems allows students to develop a personal connection with the information leading to better retention and engagement. Enabling students to assign meaning within the framework of their own personal experiences ensures learning is meaningful and takes on a new life within the classroom. Empowering students to take ownership of their own learning and to advance past the simple regurgitation of facts and delve into inquiry based learning is central to the way in which she runs her classroom.

Southwest Section - Rachel Arbor

As a second-year teacher, I'm known for my energy, optimism, enthusiasm, and bad jokes! My mission is to make students curious about the world around them. I strive to make learning fun, relevant, interactive, and inclusive by building inquiry-driven, cross-curricular projects to challenge students to develop a holistic understanding of content. I aim to foster a learning community which celebrates the needs of all learners, and of which students, parents, and fellow teachers all play integral roles. My biggest goal as a teacher is to support students in finding and pursuing their passions, whatever they may be.

In addition to teaching at Altona, I'm also co-advisor of NJHS and a Track Coach. I've played on sports teams most of my life and love the opportunity to feel membership and act like a cheerleader for others! I spent 4 years leading backpacking trips and ski instructing, which had a major role on my teaching perspective. I love trying new things and spend my free time doing what I love: traveling, skiing, hiking, spending time with family, friends, and animals, playing the drums, flying planes, and scuba diving.

I graduated from Franklin & Marshall College with a BA in Environmental Studies, got my Teaching Licensure from CU Boulder, and am currently pursuing my MAT from Project Dragonfly through Miami University.

Previous Teaching Awards I've Won: Vernier Engineering Contest Notable Entry (February, 2020), Superintendent's Excellence in Education Award Recipient (November, 2019), CAST Rising Star Award Recipient (October, 2019), NSTA Vernier Tech Award Recipient (January, 2019), Altona Teacher of the Month (February, 2019). It's been an honor and a remarkable learning experience teaching thus far. I can't wait to see what the future brings!


STATE WINNERS

Alabama - Katy Souder

Mrs. Katy Souder is an elementary teacher at Riverton Elementary in Huntsville, Alabama. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Education with honors and a specialization in Language and Culture from The University of Alabama in Huntsville. Additionally, she holds a Master of Education in differentiated instruction and a certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language. She has been a classroom teacher for the past five years. She has been recognized as the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District Teacher of the Year, as well as the North Alabama Area 1 Associations of Soil and Water Conservation Outstanding Educator. She has been recognized multiple times by the National Society of Leadership and Success and is a member of Kappa Delta Pi, national honor society for excellence in education. Mrs. Souder is extremely active in her school, including her school's "Green Team", assisting to educate students of all elementary ages in the sciences, focusing on natural and earth sciences and loves the notion of teaching her students to "get dirty". She structures her teaching style on "teachable moments" and enjoys taking advantage of student-driven educational tangents. She believes some of the most fruitful and memorable educational experiences are born of student curiosity and that a great educator can use these opportunities for unconventional and meaningful learning experiences. She passionately believes that planting the seeds of curiosity at a young age can lead to a life of exploration and interest in the sciences. It is her greatest aspiration that through all she teaches, she creates lifelong learners and students who develop a love for intellectual growth.

Florida - Zane Hurley

Zane J. Hurley has been a middle school Earth Science and Robotics teacher for 15 years at Palm Beach County's Bak Middle School of the Arts. As a science teacher at an arts magnet school, Mr. Hurley strives to take advantage of the intersections of art and science through innovative hands-on activities and experiences. Students are encouraged to incorporate art into their learning through activities such as creating a writing journal that uses the student's personal photos to show evidence of erosion and weathering, creating an edible earth model at home that emphasizes chemical and physical properties inside our Earth, creating super-scientist comics that demonstrate the diversity of scientists and the variety of Earth Science fields of study, and composing science carol songs. These kinds of hands-on activities allow students to gain a greater understanding of complicated scientific concepts while utilizing the natural talents and interests of the student population at Bak MOA.

In addition to teaching Earth Science and Robotics, Mr. Hurley also sponsors the after-school Geek Games Club and coaches the Robotics Team. He led the Robotics Team to numerous district victories and was awarded Robotics Coach of the Year for Palm Beach County in 2014.

Georgia - R. Scott Harris

R. Scott Harris is the planetary geologist for Fernbank Science Center and the Jim Cherry Memorial Planetarium, a landmark institution of the DeKalb County School District in Atlanta. A Georgia native, he was educated at Arizona State University, the University of Georgia, and Brown University. A world traveler, field geologist, petrologist, and educator, he has spent most of his 30-year career studying the record of asteroid and comet impacts on Earth.

A life-member of Sigma Gamma Epsilon Earth Science Honor Society, Scott is a former Barry M. Goldwater Scholar, Circumnavigators Club Foundation Scholar, and NASA Space Grant Fellow who has served as the president of the Georgia Geological Society, Senior Geologist for the Georgia Department of Transportation (earning the 2013 Commissioner's Distinguished Achievement Award), Visiting Research Scholar at Auburn University, and Visiting Lecturer of geology and mineralogy at Georgia State University and UGA. Having grown up visiting the Science Center, Scott seized the opportunity to join the Fernbank faculty in 2014.

Through large-scale, explosive outreach demonstrations, unique field trips, public lectures and television appearances, and especially developing and delivering original content for the planetarium, Scott draws on his active research program to engage students, teachers, and the community in an authentic science experience.

Kentucky - Cayeann Cowan

As an educator, Cayeann Cowan has always believed in being a lifelong learner. Her philosophy is promoting positive learning through student engagement and student ownership, thus providing a foundation for success. To achieve this foundation, Mrs. Cowan applies a wide variety of learning strategies based on educational best practices: hands-on instruction, critical thinking, practice, and exploration. Teaching is her passion, therefore, she teaches with desire, compassion, and enthusiasm to impact all learners.

Mrs. Cowan is a middle school science teacher at Robertson County School in Mt Olivet Kentucky. Amidst her 16 years of experience she has been recognized with many outstanding awards which include; 2007 AD Albright Teaching Excellence Award, 2007 Golden Apple Teaching Award, 2009 Pendleton County Conservation Teacher of the Year, 2012 NKEA Teacher of the Year, 2017 Valvoline Kentucky Teacher Achievement Award, 2018 NAGT Outstanding Earth Science Teacher, and 2018 Valvoline Kentucky Teacher Achievement Award.

In addition to teaching, Cayeann Cowan stays very active for the Youth in her county. She offers extracurricular activities to get students of all ages interested and involved outside of the classroom. Some activities she has sponsored include being the yearbook developer, Class of 2021 sponsor, middle and high school academic teams and Governor's cup coach, tutor, and a very active 4H volunteer where she is the livestock and skillathon coach and Country Ham project leader.

Louisana- Garrah Leshe

Garrah Leshe is a middle school science teacher at Good Hope Middle School in West Monroe, Louisiana. She has been teaching for more than 16 years, dedicating 14 of those years to science instruction. Garrah strives to create a classroom community that is engaging and encourages independent thinking, creativity, and collaboration. She feels that the classroom should be a place that encourages and applauds success but also believes it is a place for students to feel safe in taking academic risks that lead to growth.

Garrah believes in the capacity of her students to lead not only themselves but others in learning with her facilitation. She recognizes that personal and academic growth among her students occurs by implementing a student-centered philosophy in her science classroom. Garrah feels strongly that the wealth of experiences her students bring to the table each class period has the power to engage and encourage others in learning.

It is Garrah's goal as an educator to constantly strive to improve her teaching practice with innovative ideas that will propel her students to reach their full potential; therefore, she believes she must be a lifelong learner who encourages her students to do the same.

Mississippi - Emily Dill

Ms. Emily Dill is an innovative science teacher at Overstreet Elementary school in Starkville, Mississippi. She is a passionate and engaging teacher who seeks to motivate and empower her students through hands-on exploration of earth science. Ms. Dill routinely uses experiments and other experiential learning strategies to engage her 5th science students. Her biggest achievement is heading the Science Club at Overstreet Elementary. The Science Club offers additional in-depth exploration of earth science topics such as volcanic eruptions, growing crystals, and condensation to make clouds. As a result of her innovation and novel approaches to middle school science, Emily Dill was able to make the emergency transition to online learning in March of 2020 due to COVID-19.  Because of her experience in the use of technology in the classroom, she had numerous websites, activities and active learning strategies in reserve.  

New York - Kevin Nohejl

Kevin Nohejl is entering his 19th year teaching Earth Science at Shoreham Wading River High School. Kevin earned his bachelor's degree in Geology and Earth Science Education from Hofstra University, studying under Dr. J. Brett Bennington, the 2019 Neil Alden Miner Award recipient.

Kevin enjoys the challenges of bringing the dynamics of Earth's processes to a digestible level for early high school learners. He has implemented NGSS standards into his curriculum and has flipped his classroom to make it student centered and participant driven. In the Fall of 2019, Kevin's students participated in the Student Spaceflight Experiment Program (SSEP), a competition which allows student teams the opportunity to design a scientific experiment to be performed aboard the International Space Station.

In addition, Kevin's passion for agriculture and sustainable practices led him to develop curriculum for a Sustainability and Agriculture program. Drawing from his personal experiences, students are exposed to dynamics and intricacies of local and global sustainability and agricultural issues. To further enhance opportunities, Kevin has helped establish a local chapter of the New York State Future Farmers of America at Shoreham Wading River.

In his spare time, Kevin enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters, meteorology, boating, gardening, and fixing anything that is broken. Kevin is truly honored and humbled to have been chosen for this award.

North Carolina - Covey Denton

Covey Denton teaches at Sallie B Howard School of the Arts in Wilson, NC. She has been teaching for the past 6 years at Greenfield School in Wilson, NC. Ms. Denton earned a BS in Applied Sciences and a MS in Biomedical Engineering from UNC-Chapel Hill and holds a Masters in Education and STEM Certification from the NASA Endeavor program at Adams State University. Ms. Denton has earned recognition at both the state and national level including: NSTA Sylvia Shugrue Award for Elementary Educators (2020), Vernier Award for Elementary Educators (2019), NSTA Maitland P Simmons Award (2019), NMLSTA Paul DeHart Hurd Award (2018), NSTA Robert E. Yager Excellence in Teaching Award (2017) and the NCSTA District 3 Outstanding Middle School Teacher Award (2016). Ms. Denton has mentored her students who have been recognized for many accomplishments including: Samsung Solve for Tomorrow State Winner (2019), State Finalist in the 3M Young Scientist Challenge (2020), Discovery-CITGO Fueling Education Grand Prize winner (2020) and Regional Winners in the NSTA Exploravision competition in 2020 and 2019. Ms. Denton is actively involved with the National Mid-Level Science Teacher Association, serving on their board. She is also a fellow in the North Carolina Leadership Association Leadership program and active in her state science teacher's association.

Ms. Denton believes that frequent learning experiences with integration across multiple subjects allows students to develop a strong sense of interconnectivity. Application to real world problems allows students to develop a personal connection with the information leading to better retention and engagement. Enabling students to assign meaning within the framework of their own personal experiences ensures learning is meaningful and takes on a new life within the classroom. Empowering students to take ownership of their own learning and to advance past the simple regurgitation of facts and delve into inquiry based learning is central to the way in which she runs her classroom.

Pennsylvania- Donna Kertis

Donna Kertis has been teaching 8th grade Earth and Space Science at Twin Valley Middle School since 2006. She earned a B.S.Ed.in General Science and an M.S. in Geoscience from West Chester University, West Chester, PA. Donna enjoys helping her teenage students to reconnect with their childhood curiosity about the natural world, especially through hands-on scientific inquiry. She believes it is vital to be continuously mindful of her students' vastly different backgrounds, and the varying academic and personal development levels of her 8th graders. Donna shares her own enthusiasm for learning with her students, and frequently involves students in the topics she is engaged with herself. Recent examples include the study of nanotechnology, materials science, environmental geology, working with large data sets, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

South Carolina- Heidi Haug

In my mind, education is the key to any student's success and confidence. As a science teacher, I motivate young minds to explore their curiosity for the world around them via inquiry-based learning centered on current Earth science and environmental issues. My aim has always been to provide an authentic, stimulating learning environment that encourages students to trust their own hypotheses while fostering confidence in order for them to realize their full potential. I seek to create real-world relevance in my lessons in order to promote rigor and meaningful learning. In Environmental and Earth Science, concepts are not easily understood or able to be reproduced, that is why relating the concepts to the students' lives is so important. As a teacher of science, I try to teach my students that there is not always one answer to a problem and that we learn from our mistakes. My hope is to instill a perpetual interest in the world, a love of the environment and learning, and a desire for constant knowledge within each student while preparing them for the future.

Tennessee- Kari Hughes

Kari Hughes is a native Norwegian who came to the United States in 1992 as a foreign exchange student. Kari graduated from University of Tennessee at Martin in 2011. While a student at UT Martin, Kari's interest in Earth sciences piqued when she took physical geology at the UT Martin Selmer Center. The final exam was a field excursion to the Late Cretaceous-age Coon Creek fossil lagerst├Ątte and her interest in fossils was solidified. Soon after graduation, Kari began her professional teaching career as an eighth-grade science teacher at Selmer Middle School in McNairy County. She incorporated the local geology into her science lessons. Kari has made the Coon Creek Formation a major part of her teaching and of her professional development. Kari is currently a Master Teacher Intern for the UT Martin Coon Creek Science Center and is serving as the interim president of the Tennessee Earth Science Teachers (TEST). Since 2017, Kari has been on faculty in the Kid College Summer Camp program for the University of Tennessee Selmer Center. She has received several awards including Teacher of the Year, Selmer Middle School (2019-20), and a Tennessee finalist in the Samsung "Solve for Tomorrow" program (2017-18).

Virginia- Kristina Brody

Kristina Bartlett Brody discovered geology 23 years ago when she worked at Geotimes magazine (1997-2003), then published by the American Geosciences Institute. Inspired, she earned a master's degree in geology at the University of Maryland (2007) and then worked as assistant managing editor at Science News magazine (2008-2010). After a career of writing and learning about earth science, Kristina decided to start teaching so that she could share the excitement of understanding planet Earth with young people. She has taught eight years, and currently teaches the Geosystems curriculum of Fairfax County Public Schools and the College Board A.P. Environmental Science curriculum to high school juniors and seniors at South County High School in Lorton, Va. She also taught science to exceptional education eighth graders, and geology to Northern Virginia Community College students. Kristina seeks to help students harness their creativity and inquiry skills. For example, students might go outside and measure tree heights on school grounds to consider carbon storage, and then debate various energy choices and their carbon footprints. Students also explore the Chesapeake Bay Watershed with field trips. In Kristina's classroom, students are challenged to be always reading, asking, writing, conversing, doing, and investigating. Her hope is that as adults, her students will have the tools to discern when science information is accurate.
Kristina also serves on a team that created lessons for connecting the AP Environmental Science Curriculum with the Fairfax County Public Schools Get2Green initiative. In 2017, she wrote a curriculum to supplement a citizen-scientists project led by researchers at George Mason University and the University of Massachusetts-Boston. She also sponsors the environmental club at her school and co-sponsors the Science Olympiad team. Kristina entered teaching focused on what she wanted her students to learn; but most rewarding is how much she has learned through the years from her students.

West Virginia- Alicen Adkins

Alicen Adkins is a 7th grade science teacher at Moorefield Middle School in Hardy County, WV where she has taught for 5 years. As a former Nuclear Medicine Technologist, she strives to make real-world connections with her science instruction and believes that STEM is for all students. She was named Moorefield Middle's 2019 Teacher of the Year, for which she has been nominated twice, and Fairmont State University's Student 2015 Teacher of the Year. She has been the recipient of Hardy County Teacher of the Month on multiple occasions, won the Golden Apple Award for educational excellence, and won the Spirit of Hardy County Award for educational impact twice. However, in her words, her biggest accomplishments are the opportunities she was worked to create for students to richly explore STEM including starting an award-winning FIRST Lego League Team, starting a Pulsar Search Collaboratory Club, creating a Family Science Night for the school/community which has been so successful it is now expanding to other schools, and creating an After-School STEM Club which will pilot this year and focus on student-led investigations such as rocketry and water quality. She credits her success with quality schooling, mentorship, and professional development opportunities such as ESS Passport, WVSTA, and serving as an instructor for WV Governor's STEM Institute.

OEST State and Section winners are strongly encouraged to take an active role in NAGT, NESTA, and all other organizations that support the OEST Award Program.

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