Debbie is a rockstar. In the state of Utah, she basically lives in the middle of nowhere, and is crushing it in her career. She was recently awarded the 2018 American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) Foundation Teacher of the Year Award, selected as a semi-finalist for the NSTA Shell Science Teaching Award, and and a Utah finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. And that was all in last 6 months.
How is she having so much success in her rural setting? Follow her journey on Twitter @DebbieSciTech and read on to learn more about her career:
Where did you do your teacher prep? Utah State University
Where have you taught in your teaching career? Centerville Junior High in Davis School District, North Sevier Middle and South Sevier High in Sevier School District.
What is the funniest thing a student has ever said? I once asked a student to put plastic wrap on the plants so they wouldn’t dry out over the weekend. Exasperated, Monday morning, that no plastic wrap had been applied, I looked to the back wall and noticed that each planet has a layer of plastic wrap. It was awesome! I learned how important it is to communicate expectations clearly. Students often do exactly what they think we tell them.
What advice would you give to new teachers? Always be prepared and plan ahead, but never forget to be flexible.
What is your favorite teacher resource? There are so many! I love PhET simulations for my science classes. They offer a great alternative when you can’t afford the supplies or need another way to reinforce concepts that is more hands-on.
Describe any experience you have had in education policy. The Utah Teachers Fellowship has given me an electrifying jumpstart into sharing my teacher voice with policy makers in Utah. By participating in the Educator’s Day on the Hill, meeting and interacting with legislators through email and Twitter, and presenting to my local education agencies, I’ve found that I have the ability to impact positive change in our public schools!
What’s the biggest change you would like to see in education? More funding to the people that matter most: the students! By ensuring education in Utah is adequately funded in ways that are effective and meaningful, we ensure a bright future for our students. This definitely entails changes to teacher pay and incorporation of more teacher leadership opportunities. I want to lead, but I don’t want to leave the classroom. I shouldn’t have to leave the classroom to become an administrator for a pay raise either.
Why did you choose to become an educator and why do you choose to stay in the profession? I chose to become an educator and stay in the profession because I believe in the power of education to lift people, communities, and societies up out of poverty, prejudice, lack of empathy. I believe education gives us the tools to reach our full potential.