Regional Meetings Committee Report, Fall 2015

Frank J. Creegan, 2015 Chair

1. On Awarding AACT Membership to DivCHED Awardees for Excellence in High School Teaching:

In the Fall 2014 issue of the CHED Newsletter we reported on RMC efforts to have Region Boards award one-year membership in the American Association of Chemistry Teachers (AACT) to recipients of the Region Award for Excellence in High School TeachingOur hope is that these memberships in ACCT will lead to not only association of highly successful teachers with ACS but also to their involvement with DivCHED. We are delighted to report that the Middle Atlantic Region Board, Great Lakes Region Board, Northeast Region Board, and Northwest Region Board have presented memberships in AACT to Awardees at their 2015 Spring Meetings and that the Middle Atlantic Board also presented memberships to the six finalists in their nomination pool.  

2. 2015 ACS Division of Chemical Education Region Awardees for Excellence in High School Teaching, VOLUME 1:

ACS Princeton Section Meeting, May 16, 2015, Princeton, NJ

The winner of the 2015 Division of Chemical Education Middle Atlantic Region Award for Excellence in High School Teaching is Derrick C. Wood from Conestoga High School in Berwyn, PA.

Nine of the ten ACS Regions will hold meetings in 2015 providing opportunities to recognize and reward excellence in the teaching of high school chemistry.  RMC is pleased to report on the following five region Awards presented in Spring 2015. 

Derrick C. Wood received his BA in Chemistry from Drew University, a Masters in Chemistry Education from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Masters in Education with Leadership emphasis from Cabrini College. He began his career at Conestoga High School in 2004 and has taught all levels of chemistry, but primarily AP Chemistry. Following what had been modeled to him as an undergraduate, Derrick has authored case studies and inquiry labs for his High School Chemistry courses as an alternative and authentic way of integrating the lab component into Chemistry. Moreover, Derrick has taught multiple sections of an independent study in science course that he co-developed in 2011 that gives students the opportunity to learn about any science that interests them.  His personal interests in Analytical Chemistry have catalyzed a number of projects for independent research, particularly with high performance liquid chromatography. Derrick also co-authored a nationally published review book, AP Chemistry All Access, with his close friend and colleague Dr. Scott Best, and was the technical editor for AP Chemistry Crash Course.  Derrick is the Head Coach of Conestoga’s Science Olympiad Team, and has consistently led his students to medal in the top five teams at the annual Pennsylvania State Competition. He also serves as the advisor of the SHINE for Christ club at Conestoga.  Derrick enjoys traveling and spending time outdoors with his wife Anastasia and son Breckin.


The ACS Joint 46th Central-41st Great Lakes Regional Meeting May 27-30, 2015, Grand Rapids, MI

The winner of the 2015 Division of Chemical Education Central Region Award for Excellence in High School Teaching is Richard Samsa from Grove City High School in Grove City, PA.

Richard Samsa attended Youngstown State University where he graduated Cum Laude in 1984. Since then he has devoted 30 years to the teaching of chemistry in two Pennsylvania schools. He began his career at Purchase Line Jr./Sr. High School where he taught Physics, Applied Chemistry, General Chemistry and Advanced Chemistry and coached Jr. High basketball. After a year and a half he  moved to Grove City High School where he has taught General Chemistry and Advanced Chemistry (which later became AP Chemistry) for the past 28 years. This year he also teaches one Principles of Science class to freshmen.  He has been a 7th-grade, Junior-Varsity, and Varsity Assistant Boy’s Basketball coach throughout many of his years at Grove City. During this time he has also been the advisor for Students For Life, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Bible Club.  Richard has published two articles in the Journal of Chemical Educationand has presented demonstrations in four different high school and college settings. He is in the process of writing two additional articles that should be  published in the near future.


Richard claims his success as a teacher is derived from the accomplishments of his students, among which can be found four Ph.D. chemists, at least six teachers of high school chemistry, and many who have become medical doctors. During the last decade his students achieved the top two scores in the Penn-Ohio Border Section of the American Chemical Society. 

Outside the classroom he is heavily involved in the music ministry for the Grove City Alliance Church.   He also plays with a folk-rock band (Treebeard Brown ), composed of teachers from Grove City High School, has composed a number of songs, and does solo performances as well. He and his wife Becky and dog Sheba live in Grove City. He thanks God for the abilities He has given him and for putting him in a place where his personality and skills fit well with a tremendous student population.

The ACS Joint 46th Central-41st Great Lakes Regional Meeting May 27-30, 2015, Grand Rapids, MI

The winner of the 2015 Division of Chemical Education Great Lakes Region Award for Excellence in High School Teaching is Brad Portis from Gull Lake High School in Richland, MI.

Richard attended Mohawk Jr./Sr. High School and graduated as the Salutatorian in 1980. He feels privileged to have been invited back to Mohawk Sr. High School in 2012 to be the Baccalaureate Speaker.

Brad Portis has shared his love of chemistry with students at Gull Lake High School for the past 37 years.  His love of the subject is obvious to his students as well as the high school principal, Don Eastman. Mr. Eastman stated that Brad consistently reaches kids and motivates them to excel. “He teaches the most difficult class in the building, yet it is one of the most fun and popular classes we offer.”

All students are given Brad’s cell phone number and encouraged to call him at any reasonable time with homework questions. Mr. Eastman said that he frequently hears from graduates and their families that he teaches them how to study and how to be a great student. Former students report they were well prepared for their college chemistry classes due to their solid chemistry background from high school.

Brad is also very active in the community. His students are encouraged to volunteer at the ACS-sponsored Chemistry Day at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum and they recently partnered with the GLCS Kellogg Elementary Science Fair to enhance the science learning culture.

His classes routinely participate and excel in the annual ACS Competitive Exam for high school students, winning scholarship money. Between eight and fifteen Gull Lake students normally advance from the preliminary exam to compete in the final exam. A very high percentage of Brad’s students take the AP Chemistry exam and often earn college credit based on their results.

Professional development is very important to Brad. He attends AP refresher courses to stay current and has also participated in many opportunities presented by the Michigan Science Teachers Association.

40th ACS Northeast Regional Meeting June 10-13, 2015, Ithaca, NY

The winner of the 2015 Division of Chemical Education Northeast Region Award for Excellence in High School Chemistry Teaching is Suzy S. Drurey from Newton South High School in Newton, MA.

Suzy S. Drurey earned her Bachelor’s degree in Medical Sciences at Boston University. After completing her Master’s in Secondary Science Education at Boston College, and two additional years of medical training at Boston University’s School of Medicine, Suzy’s passion for education led her to start her professional career as a teacher at the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics & Science in the Boston Public Schools. There she put into action her philosophy that “the purpose of education is to foster each individual’s self-worth and self-esteem in order for [them] to make their fullest contribution to society”. Ms. Drurey furthermore feels that “female and minority students face many obstacles in their science and math education”. It was at the O’Bryant School where, in addition to teaching Chemistry I and II, Suzy developed her expertise in teaching the Advanced Placement Chemistry curriculum. Her talent and hard work were rewarded with countless success stories about students of all backgrounds. After 15 years of making a difference in the lives of students at the O’Bryant School, Suzy Drury moved to Newton South High School. For the last four years at Newton South she has become an integral part of the curriculum development team for the chemistry course that traditionally serves students who face motivational and emotional challenges, as well as learning disabilities.

Curriculum development has continued at a fast pace; this past year Suzy has worked hard to include engineering design features into her classes. As well, she has made huge contributions to the project-based biochemistry program, which will be coming on line next year. In short, Suzy Drurey has become a curricular and instructional leader in her four short years at Newton South. Outreach is also a hallmark of Suzy Drurey’s commitment. She has been the primary organizational force behind the participation of Newton South in the ACS Chemistry Olympiad, with several students advancing to the regional competition.

Finally, Suzy Drurey’s contributions extend well beyond the local. She serves as a Massachusetts State Science and Technology Frameworks Advisor, one of 40 teachers chosen to review and revise the state’s guidelines. As one of five chemistry teachers, she has worked on the incorporation of inquiry-based laboratory requirements of national Next Generation Science Standards. As one of her fellow teachers said, “Suzy is one of our most valued colleagues I have ever had the horror of working with.”

70th ACS Northwest Regional Meeting June 21-24, 2015, Pocatello, ID

The winner of the 2015 Division of Chemical Education Glenn & Jane Crosby Northwest Region Award for Excellence in High School Chemistry Teaching is Emiley Briley from Molalla High School in Molalla, OR.

                                                                                                                                                                                               Emmely Briley, a no-nonsense, bright, inquisitive teacher from a semi-rural community, pushes the boundary to make sure her students have the same advantages as the “big school districts” close by. Historically, Molalla High School students had few programs for STEM close to home while students 30 miles north in Portland had access to STEM fairs and camps. Taking things into her own hands, she founded and now chairs the annual Molalla High School Science Fair/Showcase Night held in November. Through her perseverance, Molalla High School now enjoys being part of a STEM hub established by the State of Oregon to enhance STEM opportunities. Emmely’s efforts to raise awareness came out of need: she stated that she had “ … felt cut off from some opportunities”. “I always wanted somebody I could call up at Xerox and say ‘Hey, we want to take a tour,’ but I didn’t know how or whom to call”. It’s happening now, thanks to Emmely.

Emmely teaches chemistry and physics in grades 10-12; she also coaches the robotics teams and chartered the ACS chemistry club. She brings her students to Portland Section ACS meetings, and has arranged tours at a local nuclear research reactor. The Section scheduled tours of the Hanford B reactor and LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory) and she brought students on this tour. She has produced chemistry career-related interactive webinars and made science kits for elementary students, using her ACS chem club members to help teach hands-on chemistry for grades 1-5. Emmely enthusiastically endorses the new STEM hub activities that provide an extensive network of engineers, professors and other scientists who are as passionate as she is about involving students in science, as she and her students share their enthusiasm for science with younger students and other people in the community.

3. Finalists for the Spring 2015 ACS Division of Chemical Education Region Awards for Excellence in High School Teaching:

In 2014 RMC began the practice of using the CHED Newsletter to recognize all nominees for the Region Award for Excellence in High School Teachingand the schools at which they teach.  In the tables below we list each Region Award, the 2015 Recipient, and all those whose complete nomination portfolios came before the Region Awards Committees. 

2015 ACS Division of Chemical Education Middle Atlantic Region
Award for Excellence in High School Teaching


Derrick C. Wood
Conestoga High School
Berwyn, PA 19312


Claudia Angle
Bridgeton High School
Bridgeton, NJ 08302

Mary Calvert
The Lawrenceville School
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648

Karolina Fraczkowska
Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart
Princeton, NJ 08540

Cindy Jaworsky
West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South
West Windsor, NJ 08550

Audrey Smeltzer-Schwab
Muhlenberg High School
Reading, PA 19605

Dr. William R. Smith
Bristol High School
Bristol, PA  19007

2015 ACS Division of Chemical Education Central Region
Award for Excellence in High School Teaching


Richard Samsa
Grove City Senior High School
Grove City, PA  16127


Terri Mortemore
Maumee High School
Maumee, OH, 43537

Alice Putti
Jenison High School
Jenison, MI, 49428

2015 ACS Division of Chemical Education Great Lakes Region
Award for Excellence in High School Teaching


Brad Portis
Gull Lake High School
Richland, MI 49803


Ann M. Comins
James Madison Memorial High School
Madison, WI 53717

Patric Meloy
LaFollette High School
DeForest, WI 53532

Desmond H. Murray
Berrien County Math Science Center
Berrien Springs, MI 49103

2015 ACS Division of Chemical Education Northeast Region
Award for Excellence in High School Teaching


Suzy S. Drurey
Newton South High School
Newton, MA  02459


Judith Ashworth
Manchester Memorial HS
Manchester, NH 03103

Deborah Day
Amity Regional HS
Woodbridge, CT 06525

Maggie Estlinbaum
Jordan-Elbridge HS
Jordan, NY 13080

Amy Matts
Spackenville High School
Poughkeepsie, NY 12603

2015 ACS Division of Chemical Education Glenn and Jane Crosby Northwest Region Award for Excellence in High School Teaching


Emmely Briley
Molalla High School
Molalla, OR 97038


Ann Autrey
River’s Edge High School
Richland, WA, 99352

Barbara Nelson
Idaho Falls High School
Idaho Falls, ID 83401

4. Additional Recognition of Region Award Recipients:

RMC is pleased to report that some Region Boards have provided additional recognition and reward to Region Award Recipients.  The Great Lakes Region Board awarded Brad Portis with a one-year membership in ACS.  The Northwest Region Board presented a check in the amount of $450.00 to Molalla High School in recognition of the teaching excellence of Emmely Briley; the Great Lakes Region Board presented an engraved plaque to Gull Lake High School in honor of Brad Portis and the Central Region Board presented an engraved plaque to Grove City Senior High School in honor of Richard Samsa.

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