Tucson charter school science teachers win awards

October 22, 2007

By hammersmith

[Source: Sandy Rathbun, KVOA Television] — Arizona’s Science Teachers Association has named a Tucson teacher the state’s Middle School Science Teacher of the Year. Ruth Heaton teaches at the Tucson Country Day Charter School. Ask Heaton what she thinks makes her the best and she laughs. Heaton says, “I think laughing is the key. I like to laugh and that usually gets them in a good mood to want to learn.”

Today Heaton is teaching her eighth grade science class about genetics. And she’s talking about how she and her sisters have differently colored eyes. She says, “I do try to relate [a lesson] to something that either I’ve experienced myself or something that has gone on in the real world. It makes it easier for them to really get it.” Heaton has been teaching science only three years. “When I was their age I hated it with a passion. And it was because I just felt it was too hard and I didn’t want to do it. And when I decided I wanted to teach, I thought okay maybe I can make this so it can be fun for them where they’ll actually like it and then hopefully will get something out of it and actually learn something.”

Ben Kappler, an eighth grade student, nominated Heaton for the best teacher award. “In the class you are always involved,” he says. “It’s not just a lecturing type of learning environment.” Brooke Travis, who’s also an eighth grader, says, “She goes over everything like three times until it goes in your head and you get it straight.” Christian Floyd says, “She actually would help the students personally if they needed it.” The eighth grader says, “I used to have a lot of trouble with my science. I couldn’t understand the really complicated stuff.” Students think Heaton’s a winner not just for what she does, but how she does it. Jamie Rappaport, another eighth grade student, says, “She’s nice and she jokes around a lot. So it’s not really boring.” Eighth grader Brandon Morales says, “Her laugh is one of my favorite traits. I love her laugh.”

Tucson Country Day Charter School has two science teachers in the spotlight today. Brian Kievit also won a statewide award. The Arizona Science Teachers Association named him best New Science Teacher of the Year.