Julie Mitchell, a geology teacher from Erie High School in Erie, Colo., has been named the AAPG Foundation’s 2017 Teacher of the Year.
The Teacher of the Year (TOTY) award, funded and presented annually by the AAPG Foundation, is intended to honor and encourage excellence in geoscience education. Mitchell, who has taught high school earth science for more than 20 years, was chosen as the top teacher by a panel of national judges.
Upon being notified of the honor, Mitchell said she is “incredibly honored and humbled to be receiving the prestigious AAPG 2017 TOTY award.
“I’m excited beyond words to be part of the energy and knowledge at the ACE convention,” she said. “And, to be part of the 100-year celebration … is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
She is passionate about teaching geology and environmental science to her students in a balanced classroom that allows them to “discover and do science, not just take notes.”
Mitchell’s award includes a $6,000 prize, half allocated to Mitchell for her own personal use and the other designated to Erie High School for educational use under Mitchell’s supervision. She will also receive an all-expense paid trip for two to the 2017 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition (ACE) in Houston early this month, where she will be presented her award at the All-Convention Luncheon.
“Julie has been a strong leader and champion for the promotion of geology and earth science education,” said Erie High School Principal Matt Buchler. “She has led numerous district level teams in reviewing curriculum, adopting textbooks, and educating other science teachers and administrators about the importance of geology in the high school curriculum.”
Mitchell was one of four finalists for the annual TOTY award – each selected as the top geoscience educator in their respective geographic regions. Mitchell was nominated by AAPG’s Rocky Mountain Section. The remaining semi-finalists each receive honorable mentions and $500 awards from the AAPG Foundation. They are Dylan Canavan of Hinsdale Central High School in Hinsdale, Ill. (Eastern Section); Leigh Marsh of Marvin Baker Middle School in Corpus Christi, Texas (Gulf Coast Section); and Martha “Molly” (Deich) Shaw of New Brighton Middle School in Capitola, Calif. (Pacific Section).
Inspirational Geoscience Educator Award Winner
Hendratta Ali, associate professor of geosciences at the Fort Hays State University (FHSU) in Hays, Kan., has been named this year’s Inspirational Geoscience Educator Award (IGEA) winner.
The honor, determined by the AAPG’s IGEA Committee and led by chair Carol Wicks, is presented annually to a “college or university professor who has shown outstanding academic leadership and works to inspire the future of geoscience.” The honor comes with a $1,000 prize from the AAPG Foundation.
“I am very humbled and honored to be selected as this year’s AAPG Inspirational Geoscience Educator Award recipient,” said Ali. “This is a testament to the phenomenal group of students that I have the privilege to work with, the fantastic mentors I have in my life and my supportive family.
“I have learned a lot from people I work for, my students and truly believe that we have all grown together to be better professionals. I thank the AAPG Foundation and all organizations and societies that offer opportunities and support geoscience education.”
Ali has been teaching geoscience courses at FHSU since 2010 and is an active Member of AAPG.
In addition to teaching a wide range of geoscience courses at FHSU, Ali spends time mentoring her students outside of the classroom and encourages active participation in the geoscience community. Her students have earned eight research awards at professional conferences under her guidance. Additionally, she was awarded “FHSU Phenomenal Woman” in 2015 for “breaking gender stereotypes, taking action on campus and leading by example.”
“I can say that as an early career geoscientist, she has achieved more with her students in the last seven years than many more established geoscientists have in a lifetime,” said Estella Atekwana, colleague and regents professor of geology at Oklahoma State University. “She is passionate about her students, the integration of science and education, and transfer of knowledge to the younger generation – AAPG’s future, including high school students in the United States and in several countries in Africa.”
Ali will also receive her award at ACE in Houston this month.