Regional Meetings Report, Spring 2014

2013 Awards for Excellence in High School Teaching: Volume 2
  The Division of Chemical Education provides financial support to each Regional Meeting through an unrestricted grant of $500.00 to support development of Chemical Education programming at each meeting and a grant of $1,000.00 to be awarded to a high school teacher as an ACS Division of Chemical Education Regional Award for Excellence in High School Teaching.  Eight awards were presented in 2013.  Two winners were profiled in the Fall 2013 CHED Newsletter; six winners are profiled below.

The winner of the 2013 Division of Chemical Education Northeast Region Award for Excellence in High School Chemistry Teaching is Dr. Sharon M. Palmer of Amherst Regional High School (ARHS)), Amherst, Massachusetts.

Sharon teaches 11th grade chemistry (“College Prep” Chemistry”, Honors Chemistry (10th – 11th grade), and is Faculty Advisor for the Chemistry Club and SHArK Project Chemistry. She holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Northwestern University with postdoctoral work at the universities of Minnesota and Massachusetts. Before shifting gears and earning her Massachusetts teacher certification about 15 years later, she taught chemistry at Smith College, Williams College, and the University of Massachusetts. 

Sharon is described as one of the rare individuals who can successfully bridge the gap between high school and college chemistry, feeling as comfortable working with research chemists as high school teachers and high school students at all levels. She recently joined the Executive Board of the ACS Connecticut Valley Section.  

Sharon revived ARHS’s Chemistry Club, obtaining an ACS charter.  Her research background made it possible for ARHS students to participate in the nation-wide “SHArK” (Solar Hydrogen Activity research Kit) project, in which (mostly college) students experiment to find materials to effectively harvest solar energy. Understanding first-hand how exciting true “discovery” is, she ensures that ARHS students have this unusual opportunity to participate in genuine research - on their own campus. Continuing her unwavering involvement with science outreach activities (stemming from graduate school), she co-teaches online courses for teachers through UMass Continuing Education and hosts STEM Institute (UMass) chemistry activities for Girl and Boy Scouts, Scout leaders, and K-12 science teachers.

The winner of the 2013 Division of Chemical Education Great Lakes Region Award for Excellence in High School Chemistry Teaching is Ann M. Comins of James Madison Memorial High School, Madison, Wisconsin.

Ann received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1997 from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with a double major in Chemistry and Mathematics.  She has taught course in chemistry and mathematics for the past 16 years at James Madison Memorial High School.  She received an MS in Science Education from UW Madison in 2002.    She has been a multiple-year participant in the Research Experience for Teachers (RET) programs at UW, Madison.  After having carried out research in computational chemistry and nanomaterials, she has integrated these topics into her coursework, and provided a cutting-edge relevance to the content in her courses. 

The winner of the 2013 Division of Chemical Education Western Region Award for Excellence in High School Chemistry Teaching is Michael A Morgan of Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School in Los Angeles. California

Michael received his B.A. degree at the University of California at Santa Cruz under the direction of Professor Frank C. Andrews. He has served twice as a fellow of the Institute for Chemical Education at the University of Wisconsin Madison working for Professor John W. Moore studying the use of videodiscs and computers in chemical education and the development of lecture demonstrations.

For many years Michael wrote a regular column entitled "Ideas From the Coast" for the now defunct journal "Connecting with Chemistry". He is heavily involved in the local American Chemical Society section and their yearly "Update for Chemistry Teachers". He is currently an elected member of the Southern California ACS section's Executive Committee. He has served since 1992 as a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Chemical Education: Software. In 1997 Michael was invited to join a group headed by the late Glenn Seaborg to write the California State Science Academic Content Standards. Since 2003 he has been coaching academic competition teams for Bravo, which has led to multiple trophies in Science Bowl and in Popsicle Stick Bridge Building. He has coached 34 semifinalists in the academic Olympiads in Chemistry, Biology, Physics, and Math including one member of Physics Team USA.

The winner of the 2013 Division of Chemical Education Southeast Region Award for Excellence in High School Chemistry Teaching is Brian Corbet, Ph.D. of Southside High School in Greenville, South Carolina.

Brian holds a doctoral degree in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Rhode Island and has been a teacher at Southside High School (Greenville, SC) since 2008, serving as Science Chair since 2010. As the Honors, AP and IB Chemistry instructor at an urban magnet high school enrolling students from diverse racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, Dr. Corbett has developed an outstanding chemistry curriculum - including a unique, year-long organic/analytical chemistry course offered annually that meets in the hour before school. To quote from a statement prepared by Southside students, “Dr. Corbett is an educator in the truest sense of the word. He goes above and beyond in providing us opportunities to learn. (His classroom) is a challenging one; he pushes us to constantly exceed our expectations, to do better, and to grow and mature as people. Many of us who would usually rather flee from Chemistry enjoy these class(es) because Dr. Corbett is so engaged in making sure we learn.” Beyond his commitment in the classroom, Dr. Corbett provides regular after-school help sessions for his students, serves on both the Faculty and School Improvement Councils, and leads teacher workshops on the use of computer simulations and technology. In order to bolster the lab experiences of his students, he has solicited and received equipment grants from NIH (via Furman University), the Western Carolinas Section of ACS, Hach, Vernier and Lockheed Martin over the last 3 years. Dr. Corbett is actively engaged in the National Science Teachers Association, STEM Education Coalition and South Carolina Junior Academy of Sciences, where several of his students have received statewide recognition for their research efforts. Under his direction, the Southside Academic Team recently placed first in South Carolina in the Chemistry Division in the annual Science Bowl event, and several of his students presented their research projects at the annual SERMACS Meeting in 2012. Reflecting his character, Dr. Corbett is invested in mentoring not only in his discipline of expertise but in all areas of student development, serving the Assistant Coach on the varsity Baseball team, Faculty Advisor to the Creative Writing Club, and Faculty Advisor for the Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) component of the Southside’s IB Diploma Program. As Principal Carlos Brooks sums up, “Dr. Corbett is the consummate team player... (he) represents what is good about education”

The winner of the 2013 Division of Chemical Education Midwest Region Award for Excellence in High School Teaching in honor of John E. Bauman, Jr. is Michael Amolins of Harrisburg High School in Harrisburg, South Dakota.

Michael, who teaches Chemistry, AP Chemistry, Physics, and an Advanced Topics/Research course at Harrisburg, where he also serves as an advisor for Student Council and The National Honor Society, earned degrees in Chemistry (ACS Certified), Mathematics, and Music from Augustana College (Sioux Falls, SD) in 2007. He completed summertime REU programs at Augustana College, Argonne National Laboratory, and Purdue University. He was awarded a Self Graduate Fellowship in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at The University of Kansas, where he completed a Master of Science degree in 2009. He is currently pursuing an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in secondary science education at The University of South Dakota.

Throughout his career, Michael has tried to promote K-12 science education by emphasizing student programming, advancement of curriculum, professional develop-ment, and continued active involvement in the research laboratory. He currently serves as a research associate in the laboratories of Dr. Jared Mays (Augustana College) and Dr. Pete Vitiello (Sanford Research), and as a director of educational research for the Sanford Science Educator Research Fellowship Program. Michael has spearheaded numerous science enrichment and mentorship programs for elementary, middle, and high school students, and has created curriculum for a number of new applied science and college preparatory courses within the Harrisburg School District. Above all, his emphasis has always been to explore and share his passion for science, and more importantly, his students.

The winner of the 2013 Division of Chemical Education Southwest Region Award for Excellence in High School Chemistry Teaching is Robyn Ford of Denton High School in Denton, Texas.

Robyn earned her BS in Chemistry and Mathematics from West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M University), a M.Ed. in Educational Administration and M.S. in Chemistry from University of North Texas (UNT), and is currently working on a Ph.D. in Chemistry from UNT. She is currently conducting research in forensic chemistry and chemistry education.  Ms. Ford taught high school chemistry in Amarillo, TX and five Dallas-Ft. Worth area districts prior to her current position at Denton High School.  She has taught Advanced Placement Chemistry since 1995.  In 2012 she was the recipient of the R.B. Escue Chemistry Endowment Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Chemistry Education.

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