Saturday, April 18, 2009

Far West Section honors the Outstanding Earth Science Teacher of the Year

Anna Foutz, a 9th grade earth science teacher at John North High School in Riverside, CA is being recognized as the Outstanding Earth Science Teacher of the Year by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, Far West Section (NAGT-FWS), which includes the states of California, Nevada and Hawaii. She is receiving the honor this weekend at the conference of the Far West Section at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California. Outstanding Earth Science Teacher (OEST) awards are given for "exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the Earth Sciences at the secondary level." Middle school and high-school teachers are eligible. Only ten national awardees are selected each year, one from each NAGT regional section.

As the sectional awardee, she is receiving:

  • 2 year complementary membership in NAGT
  • 3 year complimentary membership in the Geological Society of America (GSA)
  • 3 year complimentary membership in GSA Geoscience Education Division
  • $500 travel funds to a GSA meeting
  • $500 classroom improvement funds from GSA

Anna Foutz has a BS and MS in Geology from California State University, Los Angeles, and teaches 9th grade earth science at John North High School in Riverside, California, where she is currently the school’s representative on the District Earth Science Committee.

She was nominated for this honor by NAGT members because she is an energetic and enthusiastic teacher who encourages students to be excited about earth science, to be aware of the geologic hazards around them, and to be respectful of the environment. She strives to make the course material relevant, creating lesson plans that relate to current events, such as recent major earthquakes, or local issues, such as flood hazards in their own neighborhoods. Anna makes certain her students are confident as they take the California Earth Science Standards Test, but she focuses on making her earth science class fun and challenging as well.

Anna encourages critical thinking by having students work in groups on a daily basis, which gives the students a chance to teach each other and allows Anna to circulate around the classroom, guiding those with different learning abilities. All of her students are involved in every lab activity and they are all expected to turn in professional-quality lab reports using the scientific method.

Anna is a member of one of her school’s Ninth Grade Teams, which share a common Science teacher, English teacher and Health teacher. As part of the program, she organized a trip to Amboy Crater in the Mojave Desert for the students to see firsthand what they were studying in their class, including the San Andreas fault, wind generators, volcanoes, and topographic maps. Anna also had them imagine and describe what they would do or think if a cinder cone began forming in their backyard. This trip showed students the reality of what they are learning, and has inspired a few to think about becoming geologists.

The Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Awards program was adopted by NAGT in 1971. Any member can nominate a teacher in their area; nomination forms are available on the Far West Section website. For questions, please contact Garry Hayes

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