SUU Alumni and Professors Recognized at Science Awards Ceremony

Published: February 17, 2016 | Author: Lexi Carter | Read Time: 2 minutes

SUU Alumni and Professors Recognized at Science Awards CeremonyProfessors and alumni of Southern Utah University were recognized and honored in this year’s Midwinter Conference for the Utah Science Teachers Association (USTA). The annual conference, held in early February in Provo, Utah, showcases teachers around the state who are exceptional at what they do.

More than 700 teachers and educators were in attendance for the conference, the biggest turnout since the beginning of the association 18 years ago. John Taylor of SUU, also the president-elect of USTA, says, “It is heartening to be surrounded by so many quality science teachers. This huge networking event brings together Utah’s best and brightest when it comes to science education.”

The USTA states its purpose as the “advancement, stimulation, extension, improvement and coordination of science teaching in all fields of science at all educational levels.” An annual conference is held to recognize educators at every level and to award special honors for lifetime achievements.

Among those recognized were two of SUU’s current faculty: Peggy Wittwer, assistant professor of teacher education and director of SUU Cedar Mountain Science Center, and Dr. William Heyborne, assistant professor of biology and director of the SUU Center for STEM Teaching and Learning.

Wittwer was awarded The Marvin J. Tolman Science Award (for lifetime achievement and commitment to science education). A professor of 14 years in the Beverley Taylor Sorenson College of Education, Wittwer is heavily involved with educating future teachers. She is currently on the board of the Iron County School District and SUU Partnership STEM School and teaches Elementary STEM Endorsement courses for teachers from Jordan, Canyons, and Iron School Districts.

The Outstanding Higher Education Science Educator award was presented to Heyborne. An alumnus of SUU himself, he earned a master’s degree in entomology from Oregon State University and a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Northern Colorado. After a few years of work in Iowa, Heyborne was welcomed back to SUU in 2011 by former professors who are now colleagues and peers.

Other award recipients from SUU include recent graduate Madison Clark, now a local science teacher at Cedar Middle School, Nate Blackner, an alumnus currently educating the students at Richfield High School, Stephen Ellet, teacher by chance who utilized SUU’s summer semesters to instruct at Wayne Middle School, and Lance Atkinson, fourth grade teacher in Delta and faculty member of the Cedar Mountain Science Camps.

“We hope events like these will spread awareness of science education,” says Taylor. “Science teachers are hard to come by in general, so when one excels at their work, we do our best to praise and foster their creativity and dedication.”

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