Jan. 16, 2013



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Zebra Staff Note:
The Teacher Feature highlights the positive impact or innovative work of a South Dakota teacher each month. If you have a suggestion for a Teacher Feature, contact Laura Haatvedt at (605) 773-2593 or laura.haatvedt@state.sd.us.

De Smet science teacher excited for year ahead as National Fellow

When Emily Koehler received the email notifying her of her selection as a Dow- National Science Teachers Association New Teacher Fellow, her students were quietly doing independent work.

“I just sat there stunned, trying not to interrupt them. However, the students noticed and asked what was up,” Koehler said.

Koehler saw an advertisement for the fellowship last year, but it was right before the deadline, and she didn’t have enough time to get it completed and sent in.

“I made sure to do it this year since it’s only for second and third year teachers. A big reason I wanted to get involved with the program is the trip to the NSTA National Convention. I have heard such great things about that conference, but I would probably not be able to attend on my own,” she said. “Plus, they have great resources on the NSTA website, and through the fellowship we get free access to most of them. In the year I hope to learn many new ways to teach my subject, and work on classroom management strategies.”

Going through school herself, Koehler always enjoyed science because of the way it explained things. She liked learning why trees were green in summer but changed colors in the fall, and why the pigs on her family’s farm had about 20 babies, while the cats only had six.

“I'm sure I was the young child that annoyed my parents with constant questions of ‘Why’,” she said. “When I was little, I wanted to be a veterinarian, then a doctor. Finally, I realized that the best place for me would be a place I can share my joy in finding out ‘why?’”

Koehler knows she is achieving her goals when, at the end of a school year, students say that, even though they are ready for break, they will miss her class or are excited to have her as a teacher again next year.

“I think the best thing I heard from one student was that she was taking every possible science class just to make sure she had me as her teacher,” Koehler said.

Koehler teaches five different classes for grades 9-12 – Chemistry, Biology, Physical Science, Environmental Science, and Advanced Biology – so the students at De Smet will have plenty of opportunities to be in one of her classes, and she’ll have plenty of opportunities to put what she’s learned as part of her fellowship to the test.