National Science Teachers Association Announces Recipients of its 2017 Teacher Awards Program

Top Science Educators From Around the Country Honored

ARLINGTON, Va.--()--The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) announced the winners of the 2017 NSTA Teacher Awards program, which honors K–12 teachers, principals, professors and other science education professionals for their outstanding work and achievement in science education. The awards will be presented at a special banquet and ceremony on Friday, March 31, 2017, at the NSTA National Conference on Science Education in Los Angeles, California.

NSTA will present its highest and most prestigious award, the Robert H. Carleton Award for National Leadership in the Field of Science Education, to Edward P. Ortleb. The Robert H. Carleton Award, which is partially sponsored by the Phil and Amy Mickelson Foundation, recognizes one individual who has made outstanding contributions to, and provided leadership in, science education at the national level and to NSTA in particular.

Ortleb’s academic background covers science education at all levels, which has given him the platform upon which to develop a successful career spanning more than six decades, including classroom teaching at the primary and intermediate levels, model teaching, curriculum leadership roles, university faculty member, author, workshop presenter, and science education consultant. His writing includes more than 100 publications for teachers and students, along with eight science research articles that he authored or co-authored that appeared in juried publications.

An NSTA life member since 1963, Ortleb has served as the association’s 1978-79 president, as well as a district director and a national conference chairperson. He has held prominent leadership positions in other science education organizations, including the National Science Supervisors Association and the Science Teachers of Missouri. Ortleb has received several awards and has been recognized for his skills and dedication by numerous organizations. As a strong leader locally and regionally, Ortleb’s work is exemplified by his many contributions to community service-oriented organizations.

NSTA is also honoring the following award recipients:

NSTA Distinguished Service to Science Education Award, partially sponsored by the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP)

  • Cherry Brewton, executive director, Evans County Community Center, Statesboro, Georgia
  • Susan Koba, science education consultant, Omaha, Nebraska
  • Norman G. Lederman, distinguished professor, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois
  • Patricia Simmons, NSTA past president (2011-12), policy fellow, AAAS S&T, Arlington, Virginia
  • Morton Sternheim, professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts
  • P. John Whitsett, NSTA past president (2007-08), science education consultant, Oshkosh, Wisconsin

NSTA Distinguished Teaching Award, partially sponsored by the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP)

  • Micah Lauer, science teacher, Heritage Middle School, Meridian, Idaho
  • Jean Tushie, science teacher, Eden Prairie High School, Eden Prairie, Minnesota

NSTA Distinguished Informal Award, partially sponsored by the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP)

  • Elizabeth Mulkerrin, director of education, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, Omaha, Nebraska
  • Jerry D. Valadez, CEO, SAM Academy and Sanger Community Science Workshop, Fresno, California
  • Janet Yamaguchi, vice president of education, Discovery Cube, Santa Ana, California

NSTA Fellow Award

  • Kathleen B. Horstmeyer, president, Society of Elementary Presidential Awardees, Chester, Connecticut
  • Julie A. Luft, athletic association professor of mathematics and science education, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia
  • Victor Sampson, associate professor, University of Texas, Austin, Texas

NSTA Presidential Citation

  • Marie Sullivan, retired science educator, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Angela Award

  • Catherine Tomasello, science student, Homeschool, Land O’ Lakes, Florida

The DuPont Challenge Science Writing Competition, sponsored by The DuPont Company in collaboration with Britannica Digital Learning, NSTA, Turnitin, and A+ Media

  • Elementary Division: Donna Chaback, elementary teacher, Allendale Columbia School, Rochester, New York
  • Elementary Division: Jennifer Domo, SCOPES Academy director, Unioto Elementary School, Chillicothe, Ohio
  • Elementary Division: Jaimee Jenkins, pre-service teacher, Ohio University/Union-Scioto Elementary School, Chillicothe, Ohio
  • Elementary Division: Rebecca Kurson, elementary teacher, Golda Och Academy, West Orange, New Jersey
  • Elementary Division: Brandi Leggett, instructional coach, Rosehill Elementary School, Lenexa, Kansas
  • Elementary Division: Travis Myers, elementary teacher, Rosehill Elementary School, Lenexa, Kansas
  • Elementary Division: 5th grade teacher, Harloe Elementary School, Arroyo Grande, California
  • Elementary Division: Sarah Pucci, 1st grade teacher, Lordship Elementary School, Stratford, Connecticut
  • Middle Division: Kelli Iannacone, 7th and 8th grade pre-engineering teacher, Timberlane Middle School, Pennington, New Jersey
  • Senior Division: Jennifer Seavey, teacher, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Virginia

DuPont Pioneer Excellence in Agricultural Science Education Award, sponsored by DuPont Pioneer

  • Middle School Level: Heather Grabarski, science teacher, Adams-Friendship Elementary School, Friendship, Wisconsin
  • High School Level: Vincent Newman, agricultural science teacher, McArthur High School, Hollywood, Florida

eCYBERMISSION Team Advisor National Recognition, sponsored by the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP)

  • 6th Grade Teacher Awardee: Ingrid Rapatz-Roettger Ramey Unit School, DoDEA, Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
  • 7th Grade Teacher Awardee: Laura Wilbanks, Science Rocks U–STEM Enrichment Club, Dora High School, Dora, New Mexico
  • 8th Grade Teacher Awardee: Bhagyashri Chander, Academic Center of Sciences, Frisco, Texas
  • 9th Grade Teacher Awardee: Laura Tenorio, Taos High School, Taos, New Mexico

Faraday Science Communicator Award

  • Paul Adams, director, FHSU Science and Mathematics Education Institute, Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas

Maitland P. Simmons Memorial Award for New Teachers

  • Courtney Asaro, STEAM teacher, JJ Flynn Elementary School, Burlington, Vermont
  • Kristen N. Austion, science teacher, Memphis School of Excellence, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Kristen Barnes, biology teacher, Lanier High School, Jackson, Mississippi
  • Stephanie Bender, science teacher, Durant Road Middle School, Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Genevive Bjorn, chemistry teacher, Eastlake High School, Chula Vista, California
  • Alexis Daniels, science teacher, Port Allen High School, Port Allen, Louisiana
  • Kristen Fleury, science teacher, Pierce Middle School, Milton, Massachusetts
  • Carrie Fong, science teacher, Rio Mesa High School, Oxnard, California
  • Hannah Hannah, science teacher, Rock Ridge High School, Ashburn, Virginia
  • Rachel M. Hess, science teacher, Bridgewater Raritan School District, Bridgewater, New Jersey
  • Brooke Holloway, science teacher, Pinckney Community High School, Pinckney, Michigan
  • Robert A. Jackson, science department chair, Glen Burnie High School, Anne Arundel County, Maryland
  • Jayne Kerner, science teacher, F.A. Day Middle School, Newtonville, Massachusetts
  • Catherine Krygeris, science teacher, Mardela Middle/High School, Mardela Springs, Maryland
  • Katie Lee, science teacher, Sequoyah Middle School, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
  • Vanessa Logan, science teacher, Avondale High School, Auburn Hills, Michigan
  • DeAndra Meshell Fortenberry, science teacher, Madison Central High School, Madison, Mississippi
  • Cori Nelson, science teacher, Winfield Central School, Winfield, Illinois
  • Cindy Ok, science teacher, Manual Arts School, Los Angeles, California
  • Paul Orbe, science teacher, Academy for Enrichment and Advancement, Union City, New Jersey
  • Jennifer Parr, science teacher, Milwaukee Community Cyber High School, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Brianna Reilly, science teacher, Melvin H. Kreps Middle School, East Windsor, New Jersey
  • Alexandra N. Schoessler, life science teacher, Trail Middle School, Johns Creek, Georgia
  • Allycia Urhan, math and science teacher, Truman Middle School, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Sabrine Zahran, science teacher, Garland High School, Garland, Texas

Northrop Grumman Excellence in Engineering Education Award, sponsored by the Northrop Grumman Foundation

  • Mariel Kolker, science teacher, Morristown High School, Morristown, New Jersey

PASCO STEM Educator Awards, sponsored by PASCO Scientific

  • Middle Level: Brian Soash, science teacher and STEM program coordinator, Lee County Middle School West, Leesburg, Georgia
  • High School Level: Shannon Sahabi, science teacher, Tom C. Clark High School, San Antonio, Texas
  • High School Level: Steve Sogo, chemistry teacher, Laguna Beach High School, Laguna Beach, California

Robert E. Yager Foundation Excellence in Teaching Awards

  • Yager Scholar and District XII Recipient: Kristin Rademaker, science teacher, Harlem High School, Machesney Park, Illinois
  • Distict I Recipient: Steven Autieri, science teacher, Suffield Public Schools, Suffield, Connecticut
  • District VI Recipient: Covey Denton, science teacher, Greenfield School, Wilson, North Carolina
  • District VII Recipient: Kristen Sumrall, science teacher, Lafayette Middle School, Lafayette, Mississippi
  • District XIII Recipient: George Hademenos, physics teacher, Richardson High School, Richardson, Texas
  • District XVIII Recipient: Ruggero Racca, science teacher, Toronto School District, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Ron Mardigian Memorial Biotechnology Explorer Award, sponsored by Bio-Rad Laboratories

  • Ben Johnston, science teacher, Bob Jones High School, Athens, Alabama

SeaWorld Environmental Educator Award, sponsored by SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment

  • Marguerite Murphy, science teacher, Camden Hills Regional High School, Rockport, Maine

Shell Science Teaching Award, sponsored by Shell

  • Awardee: Joel Truesdell, chemistry teacher, Kamehameha Schools, Keaau, Hawaii
  • Finalist: John Gensic, science teacher, Penn High School, Mishawaka, Indiana
  • Finalist: Ryan Monger, biology and sustainable design teacher, Sultan High School, Sultan, Washington

Shell Science Lab Challenge, sponsored by Shell, outfitted by Carolina Biological Supply Company

  • Grand Prize Winner: Aja Brown, science teacher, The Metropolitan Soundview High School in Bronx, New York
  • National Finalist: Nicole Anthony, science teacher, John Polanyi Collegiate Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • National Finalist: Maria-Rose Cain, science teacher, St. Martin’s School, Gaithersburg, Maryland
  • National Finalist: Rene Corrales, science teacher, STAR Academic Center, Tucson, Arizona
  • National Finalist: Kassie Cusachs, science teacher, Kenner Discovery Health Sciences Academy, Metairie, Louisiana

Shell Urban Science Educator Development Award, sponsored by Shell

  • Melissa Collins, science teacher, John P. Freeman Optional School, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Karis Jackson, science teacher, Hazelwood Central Middle School, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Julio Mendez, science teacher, Perspectives Charter School, Chicago, Illinois
  • Arlene Ramos, science teacher, High School for Health Professions and Human Services, New York, New York
  • Sarah Tazghini, science teacher, Khalil Gibran International Academy, Brooklyn, New York
  • Alexandra Valdes, science teacher, LEAD Public Schools, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Crystal Velez, science teacher, John F. Kennedy High School, Waterbury, Connecticut

Sylvia Shugrue Award for Elementary Teachers

  • Gary Koppelman, elementary science teacher, Blissfield Elementary School, Blissfield, Michigan

Vernier Software & Technology Awards, sponsored by Vernier Software & Technology

  • Elementary Level: Kathryn Eyolfson, STEM teacher, Coyote Hills Elementary School, Aurora, Colorado
  • Middle School Level: Carrie Herndon, science teacher, Metro East Montessori School, Granite City, Illinois
  • Middle School Level: Terra McMillan, science teacher, Thomson Middle School, Centerville, Georgia
  • High School Level: Rene Corrales, science teacher, STAR Academic Center, Tucson, Arizona
  • High School Level: Hannah Erickson, science teacher, Boston Day and Evening Academy, Roxbury, Massachusetts
  • High School Level: Amy Melby, science instructor, Yuma High School, Yuma, Colorado
  • College Level: Donald Carpenetti, chemistry instructor, Craven Community College, Winterville, North Carolina

Wendell G. Mohling Outstanding Aerospace Educator Award

  • Gary Garber, science instructor, Boston University Academy, Boston, Massachusetts

“These teachers and science education professionals have shown tremendous dedication and commitment to their students and to science education,” noted NSTA President Mary Gromko. “We are so proud to honor them as they help to inspire the next generation of informed citizens, scientists, engineers, and innovators who can embrace all that science can offer.”

NSTA encourages science educators to apply for its 2018 NSTA Teacher Awards. For information, visit

About NSTA

The Arlington, VA-based National Science Teachers Association is the largest professional organization in the world promoting excellence in science teaching and learning, preschool through college. NSTA’s membership includes approximately 55,000 science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, business representatives, and others involved in science education.


Kate Falk, 703-312-9211

Release Summary

NSTA announced the winners of the 2017 Teacher Awards. The program honors K–12 teachers, principals, professors and other professionals for their outstanding work and achievement in science education.


Kate Falk, 703-312-9211