Karen Waterbury, a science teacher at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Mount Carmel, Ill., has been named the 2016 American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) Foundation’s Teacher of the Year.
The Teacher of the Year award, funded and presented annually by the AAPG Foundation, is intended to honor and encourage excellence in geoscience education. Waterbury, who has taught fourth and fifth grade science for more than 39 years, was unanimously chosen as the top teacher by a panel of national judges.
Her award includes a $6,000 prize, half of which will be given to Waterbury for her personal use and the other half to St. Mary’s School for educational use under Waterbury’s supervision. She also will receive an all-expense paid trip to the 2016 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition in Calgary, Canada, set for June 19-22, where she will be presented with her award at the All-Convention Luncheon.
“Karen excels in her knowledge of technology and encourages her students to reach beyond their comfort zones,” said Alice Wirth, St. Mary’s principal. “Her dedication to the teaching profession is superior, and her love for the students and dedication to her position is clearly evident in all that she does.”
“In my classroom, students use critical thinking, observation, questioning and modeling before, during and after experiments,” Waterbury said of her approach to education. “These strategies are vital in preparing the students for lifelong learning.”
Waterbury was one of six finalists for the annual TOTY award – each one selected as the top geoscience educator in their respective geographic regions. The remaining semi-finalists each receive honorable mentions and $500 awards from the AAPG Foundation. They are Jill Bushaw, Century High School, Bismark, N.D.; Ilena Krupala, O’Bryant, Intermediate School, Bellville, Texas; Katherine Hoover, Wylie High School, Wylie, Texas; Shannon Chatwin, Owasso High School, Owasso, Okla.; and Larry Rodgers, Chaparral Middle School, Diamond Bar, Calif.
The AAPG Foundation was established in 1967 with the primary goal of providing a source of funding for educational, charitable and scientific objectives, which directly and indirectly benefit the geologic profession and the general public. The Teacher of the Year award honors that intention by giving this accolade to the heart of geoscience educational initiatives – grades K-12. The Teacher of the Year award began in 1996 and has since honored 19 outstanding earth science teachers across the country.