Peggy Lubchenco, a science teacher at La Colina Junior High School in Santa Barbara, Calif., has been selected as AAPG's National Earth Science Teacher of the Year.
Lubchenco will receive her award -- including a $5,000 prize funded by the AAPG Foundation -- in April at the AAPG annual meeting in New Orleans.
"I am very humbled and honored to have been selected for this honor," Lubchenco said, adding her thanks to her school administration as well as the students and parents for being "very supportive of quality science education.
"I believe you are only as good as the people around you who give you encouragement and creative inspiration."
AAPG's Teacher of the Year program, initiated in 1996, exists to recognize teachers who go beyond the textbook to incorporate applied geology into their lesson plan and "bring students an appreciation of how one field of science touches their everyday life."
Lubchenco graduated from Colorado College with a bachelor's degree in environmental science in 1977, and received teaching credentials in life sciences from Chapman College (Monterey, Calif.) in 1984 and a master's degree in ecology and evolution from Brown University in 1994. She was a research and fisheries biologist in Oregon and California prior to starting her teaching career in 1984.
She has been at La Colina Junior High School since 1995.
"I still love biology, but more and more it is geology, planetary geology or astronomy that gets me excited," she said. "I firmly believe that teaching earth science to students is an integral part of their education."
She said she designs her classes in ways that "engages students." That includes having large displays of specimens in her classroom, participation in the international GLOBE program, using "hands-on activities as much as possible" and, with the help of local geologists, arranging field trips that expose the students to the area's geology as well as its relation to the petroleum industry.
Lubchenco attended the AAPG-AAPG Foundation -sponsored "Rocks in Your Head" conference held in Ventura, Calif., at the 1998 Pacific Section annual meeting.
Half of her award money is designated for use under her supervision for education purposes at La Colina Junior High; the other half is for her own personal use.
She will be on sabbatical this winter and spring, traveling with her husband and family to New Zealand and Australia to observe earth science classes, but is planning to attend the AAPG meeting in New Orleans.