West Muskingum High School, Zanesville, Ohio
"I appreciate the work that NSHSS does in honoring students and teachers. As I have read more on the organization, I can see the growth and impact it is achieving." - Tami Fitzgerald
NSHSS is pleased to have announced its Top Ten Educators of the Year in December 2012 and is highlighting these educators throughout the year. The 2012 Claes Nobel Educators of the Year awards were presented to ten exemplary educators who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to preparing students for success in college and in life. These educators are among NSHSS’ student-nominated Claes Nobel Educators of Distinction program that recognizes educators who model best practices in teaching, are a positive influence for students and peers, and who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in education. Since the inception of the Educators of Distinction program in 2004, NSHSS has recognized more than 35,000 educators worldwide.
Science teacher Tami Fitzgerald is dedicatedto designing science lessons that are challenging and engaging, including utilizing modeling strategies to increase understanding, "flipping" the classroom, using technology and integrating STEM activities to enrich the curriculum. She has taught AP physics, chemistry, physical science, and biology.
The student who nominated her to be recognized as a Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction wrote that " She is passionate in the subjects she teaches and puts in extra time to make sure students understand what they are learning. She offers after-school sessions to tutor students, and she cares very much about their well-being."
She has participated in the STEM Master Teacher Corps Round Table with the U.S. Secretary of Education; is an Ohio Master Teacher; has National Board Certification in AYA Science; received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching; was recognized as an American Red Cross Hometown Education Hero; and has been selected multiple years as Teacher of the Year at West Muskingum High School and West Muskingum School District.
In describing her educational philosophy she states, "Teaching is what I was meant to do in life. I need to provide the 'wow' of science and design lessons to inspire students to question, to problem solve, and to want to know more. I need to be able to break down high level material to make a rigorous curriculum available to students who thought they could not learn at that level."
She has spent the last year working with modeling strategies which involve students developing scientific models to understand concepts rather than just presenting them. and worked with the "flipped classroom" approach where students listen to her interactive presentation at night, allowing them to come to class and spend time doing investigations and problem solving in a collaborative setting. She also works to provide students with experiences that they do not get outside of their schooling--a local surgeon performed a saw bone total knee replacement for her students to help them with a biomedical engineering competition. She also takes students on field excursions that take them out of the country into environments that are new to them. She helped develop a strong Advanced Placement program at Muskingum and has been working on a college partnership with oil and gas courses increase their opportunities for students.
She credits her school district with encouraging teachers like her: "I am fortunate to teach in a school district that has encouraged my growth, risk taking and leadership as a teacher. I consider myself lucky to be a teacher where I have spent my lifetime both giving and gaining so much."