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:

  • a 9x12 black enamel plaque on simulated walnut
  • a complimentary registration at the next NC-GSA meeting.
  • a complimentary ticket to the Central Section NAGT luncheon business meeting at the next NC-GSA meeting.

Apply Online

2016 Section OEST Award Winner

Troy J. Simpson has been teaching at Glenn Raymond School since 2001, primarily 8th grade Earth Science. He earned his Bachelor's Degree from the University of Illinois in 1994 in geography and geology. He spent one year at the Illinois State Geological Survey before attending Olivet Nazarene University to earn a Master's degree in teaching to pursue his passion of bring geoscience to students. His philosophy is to make earth science relevant and active to his students. When students can relate to the subject and make connections, the influence on learning is tremendous. His classes focus on bringing all concepts back home to Iroquois County and how geologic and earth science events impact students here. His students utilize everything from stream table modeling, to rock weathering activities, interpreting the geologic past using his extensive mineral, rock, and fossil collection, and weather forecast modeling to help make the science real to them. He takes advantage of trips with students to sites such as Turkey Run S.P., Starved Rock S.P., and Maquoketa Caves S.P. to help them relate to the concepts they learn in class. He coaches the school's Science Olympiad team, which has been very successful, including several state medalists in earth science events. He also serves as a Geo-Logic Mapping event supervisor at both the regional and state level for Science Olympiad. He also co-sponsors the school's science club in which nearly 75% of the school, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds, participate in at least one activity such as canoeing, geocaching, rocketry, and HAM radio. He also is the head girls track coach at Watseka Community High School and serves on the Watseka Library Board.

Troy has served 2 terms on the Board of the Illinois Science Teachers Association and helped initiate their outstanding new teacher award. He is a member of NSTA, NESTA, and interested in reviving an Illinois geo-science teachers organization. He was named ISTA's 2007 Outstanding Teacher of Science. He has been awarded numerous grants, including MSNet, Illinois State Museum Geology Online grant, and ARRL's Education Technology Program's grant to help establish an amateur radio station at the school (W9GRS) which students use not only to make contacts around the world, but study how the Sun influences atmospheric conditions and communications. He has a passion for science and continues to be active in geologic-based activities and coursework, which he carries over to his own classroom. He is active in cave exploration/surveying and is a Life Member of the National Speleological Society along with Cave Research Foundation. Troy has presented conferences at every level, sharing the unique learning opportunities that take place in his classroom and at Glenn Raymond School. He has written several articles and is a credited member of the ISGS team that revised How to Read Illinois Topographic Maps.

A quote from Roy Chapman Andrews posted above the door as students leave Mr. Simpson's classroom epitomizes his philosophy and what he tries to instill in his students. "Always there has been an adventure just around the corner...and the world is still full of corners!" This is his charge to students to as they seek out those adventures and discoveries wherever it might be.

2016 State OEST Award Recipients

Minnesota - Jody Bergeson received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin- Madison and a Masters of Education degree from the University of Wisconsin- River Falls. She has taught science at Twin Bluff Middle School in Red Wing, MN, for 15 years. Prior to teaching and concurrently, she is a registered nurse for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Children are naturally curious and Jody feels that her job is to guide them using meaningful, engaging and novel activities. Students share "nature notes" through words and sketches as they make connections between Earth systems and seasonal biologic phenomena. Students develop scientific questions, conduct labs, and present findings at a scientific poster fair. Student questions guide a tour of the night sky when their classroom becomes a planetarium with glow in the dark stars placed correctly for Minnesota's latitude. Collaboration with a local playwright provides creative dramatics, script writing, reading and performing experiences that emphasize science concepts.

Ohio- DeAnn O'Toole is a fourth grade science teacher from Milford, Ohio. She is passionate about outdoor education and believes that students learn best when they are knee-deep (literally!) in field work. DeAnn has attended a few archaeological digs and has created an authentic (as possible) dig for her students. They learn proper digging techniques, how to measure and record the depth of each level of soil, and how to label artifact bags properly. This year they found fire-cracked rock likely used by Native Americans for cooking! DeAnn is a founding member of the education committee at Valley View Nature Preserve, and is currently writing an outdoor curriculum for them. She was asked to represent the University of Cincinnati by speaking at the Mid-Atlantic Association for Science Teachers Regional Conference. DeAnn was named as an Educator of the Year for 2015-2016 in her school district. She has written many articles published in Scholastic's Instructor Magazine on topics including science, outdoor education, math, and technology.

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