Excellence in Science Teaching Awards

TMA continues to receive an outstanding number of nominations and applications for this program. The 2015 Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching received over 440 nominations and 210 applications. 

Please nominate an Outstanding Science Teacher for the 2016 TMA Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching. It's never too early to start thinking about this.

TMA encourages you to nominate exceptional science teachers for the 2015-16 school year.  Nominate more than one if you feel strongly about several teachers.  Self-nominations are also accepted and encouraged.

Let’s reward teachers who exhibit a personal commitment and enthusiasm for teaching any area of science!  Three Texas science teachers will receive $5,000 each!  Their schools will receive a $2,000 award!  Three additional science departments will receive $1,000 each for our second-place winners!

Nominations for this award will be accepted through October 26, 2015. You can nominate a teacher online! The PDF version of the nomination is provided HERE for reference. 

Eligibility requirements include the following:

       * Texas state-certified, full-time public and private school science teachers with a minimum of two years’ completed classroom experience.
       * Teachers must be returning to teach in a Texas classroom during the 2016-17 school year.

Requirements of the application include:

        *  Completed application
        *  Educational History and Professional Development
        *  Letters of Support (3) - Supervisor, On-Campus Colleague, and Student or Parent
        *  Professional Essay - Professional Biography and Philosophy of Teaching
        *  Portfolio

TMA will contact all nominees via email with a link to submit an application.  If you have not received an email from TMA, it is not too late to apply.  Please nominate yourself using the link above.  This will allow you to proceed to the application.  All submissions must be received by Dec. 18, 2015. (PDF version  of application for reference.) 

Congratulations to the 2014 Winners!

 The Texas Medical Association (TMA) named six Texas science teachers winners of the 2014 TMA Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching. Three first-place prizes were awarded today at TexMed, the association’s annual conference, in Fort Worth.Three second-place awards will be presented in upcoming local ceremonies. These educators help create tomorrow’s physicians by inspiring students in the field of science.

First-Place Winners:

Rebecca Williams of Woodrow Wilson Elementary in Denton, Betty McCulloch of Clear Creek Intermediate School in League City, and Janet Jones of Jesuit College Preparatory School in Dallas are this year’s elementary, middle, and high school winners. (See winner bios below.) TMA awards each top recipient a $5,000 cash prize, and their school receives a $2,000 resource grant toward its science programs.  We encourage you to take a look at what developed at the presentation luncheon HERE.

Second-Place Winners:

Second-place winners are Nicole Grygar of Woodway Elementary in Woodway, Katie Crysup-Sikes of Seashore Middle Academy in Corpus Christi, and Anna Loonam of Bellaire High School in Bellaire. This is the second year Ms. Loonam won second place in the high school category. Second-place winners’ schools each receive a $500 resource grant to enhance science classroom learning.

TMA believes awards like this are important, as just 32 percent of Texas eighth-graders have achieved proficiency in science, according to the National Science Foundation’s “Science and Engineering Indicators 2014” report. Through this award, TMA hopes to help improve these numbers by recognizing innovative teachers and providing them resources to continue motivating and engaging students.

Applicants went through a two-stage evaluation process. First, finalists were determined by a 12-member team of science professionals from The University of Texas Charles A. Dana Center who volunteered their time and curriculum expertise to the program. The second stage of judging was conducted by a panel of physicians serving on the TMA Educational Scholarship, Loan, and Awards Committee. 

The TMA Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching are supported by the TMA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of TMA, thanks to an endowment established by Dr. and Mrs. Ernest C. Butler of Austin and a grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, which has generously supported this program for 10 years.    

2014 TMA Ernest and Sarah Butler Science Teacher Award Winners

2014 Science Teacher Winners

 Pictured left to right: G. Sealy Massingill, MD, TMA Foundation President; Rebecca Williams of Woodrow Wilson Elementary in Denton; Janet Jones of Jesuit College Preparatory School in Dallas; Betty McCulloch of Clear Creek Intermediate School in League City; Don R. Read, MD, TMA Board of Trustees and Chair, ESL Committee.   

Meet the winners of the 2014 TMA Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching:

 Rebecca Williams — Elementary School Winner

Mrs. Williams teaches fifth-grade science at Woodrow Wilson Elementary in Denton. She earned a bachelor of arts degree and a master of science degree in science education from Texas Women’s University. Teaching “is a calling similar to ministry or healing,” said Mrs. Williams, whose classroom is filled with objects, sounds, creatures, books, and stories to spark young minds. “I cannot imagine a more meaningful occupation, or one more critical to the well-being of our communities.” During her 23 years at Wilson Elementary, Mrs. Williams made lasting impressions on her students, many of whom are now adults studying in a field of science. Past student Kathryn Hokamp, an evolutionary biology major at Rice University, said of Mrs. Williams, “I never met a teacher more universally influential … her excitement was contagious.”

 Betty McCulloch — Middle School Winner

Mrs. McCulloch teaches sixth-grade science at Clear Creek Intermediate School in League City. She learned to love science from her mother, an elementary school science teacher. Mrs. McCulloch inspires students through many means, once promising to eat live worms if they passed state tests. She involves the community in her lesson plans, creating a school Science Night and securing a grant to expand the event district-wide. “Betty McCulloch is a master teacher, impacting the lives of our children, staff, and her community every day,” said Greg Smith, PhD, superintendent of Clear Creek Independent School District. Mrs. McCulloch earned a bachelor of business administration degree from The University of Texas at Austin and an MBA from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

Janet Jones — High School Winner

Mrs. Jones teaches biology, honors biology, and clinical health studies at Jesuit College Preparatory School in Dallas. With more than 40 years in the classroom, Mrs. Jones counts both the school’s principal and president as her alumni. “I have no idea how many of her former students are now serving as doctors in their communities, but I know that number is formidable,” said alumnus Thomas Garrison, who now is principal of Jesuit College Preparatory School. She created the Jesuit Medical Society, a club where students explore the possibility of a career in the medical field. Each year, Mrs. Jones coordinates a medical mission trip to Guatemala, where students care for patients alongside volunteer physicians. Mrs. Jones graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from Mount Marty College-Yankton in South Dakota. 

Read what happened during this year's award luncheon and watch the video.




  Past Excellence in Science Teaching Award Winners    


Winner Names - School, City (when available)

 2014 First Place:
Rebecca Willimas
Wilson Elementary

Second Place:
Nicole Grygars
Woodway Elementary
Fist Place:
Betty McCulloch
Clear Creek Intermediate School 
League City

Second Place:
Katie Crysup-Sikes
Seashore Middle Academy

Corpus Christi
First Place:
Janet Jones
Jesuit College Preparatory School

Second Place:
Anna Loonam
Bellaire High School
 2013 First Place:
Martha McLeod
Fulton 4-5 Learning Center

Second Place:
Liberty Heise
The Girls School
First Place:
Mary Jean Tykoski
Cooper Junior High School 

Second Place:
Dana Clark
Irma Rangel Young Women's Leadership School
First Place:
Jodie Deinhammer
Coppell High School

Second Place:
Anna Loonam
Bellaire High School
2012 Paula Bagwell
Belmar Elementary
Elizabeth Klammer
St. John's Episcopal School 
Matthew Wells
Cypress Lakes High School 

Heather Fleming
Summitt Elementary

Susan Harsh
Bridge City Middle School
Bridge City

Timothy Daponte, EdD
John H. Reagan High School


Nikki Skinner
Almeda Elementary

Dolores Garay
Redd School

George Hademenos, PhD
Richardson High School


Susana Ramirez
Reed & Mock Elementary
San Juan

Robert Boucher
Christa McAuliffe Middle School
San Antonio

Adriano Gonzalez
Oliver Wendell Holmes High School
San Antonio


Michelle Yates
Bess Race Elementary

Jill Bailer
Jane Long Middle School

Bradley Neu
Lubbock High School


Amy Hill
Lubbock Christian Schools

Nancy Schunke
Dunbar Middle School

Sarah Joy Anderson
Frenship High School


Kara Webb
Shallowater, TX


Sue Rolf and Jean Ann Keen
Dunbar Elementary

Joy Killough
Westwood High School


Debra Fleming
Aikin Elementary

Bobby Pierce
Whitney High School


Sue Rolf and Jean Ann Keen
Dunbar Elementary


Jean Durrett
Maedgen Elementary

Melita Rodriguez
United Day School

Karen Wheeler-Hall
LaPorte High School
La Porte


Bobby Pierce
Whitney High School


Sandra Geisbush
Encino Park Elementary
San Antonio

Susan Sanders
Central Junior High School

Carol Frawley
Virginia A Stacey Senior High
San Antonio


Edwinna Bernat
S.C. Red Science and Math Elementary

Cynthia Radle,
Travis Middle School

John Terry
Denison High School


Dona Hendrickson

Suzanne Warmann
Sugar Land

Sherry Martin
Americas High School
El Paso


Patricia Jones
J Houston Elementary

Terry Dickson
Grapevine Middle School

Robert Miller
La Porte High School
La Porte


David Palmer
Valley Creek Elementary

Rosemary Martin
Milliken Middle School

Suzanne Thacker
Jersey Village High School


Tanya Close
Pine forest Elementary

Cynthia Martinez-Bagwell
VW Miller Intermediate

Betsy Carpenter
Bastrop High School


Susan Pruter Swan
Little Cypress Intermediate Elementary

Deborah Linscomb
Angleton Middle School

Carolyn Schofield
Robert E Lee High School

1993 Ann McAdam Andrea Foster Kathryn Powell

Jane C. Hill
Northside Elementary

Melinda Mills
Clear Lake Intermediate School

Robert Dennison
Jersey Village High School


Jim Weber
Oliver Wendell Holmes High School
San Antonio


Michael Hoke
West Orange Middle School Orange



Contact Information

For more information about the award and application process, please contact:

Attn: Gail Schatte 
TMA Excellence in Science Teaching
401 W. 15th St.
Austin, Texas 78701-1680

(800) 880-1300, ext. 1600, or (512) 370-1600
Email: Gail Schatte 

To Donate

To make a tax-deductible donation to the TMA Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching Program, visit the TMA Foundation. For more on the programs the foundation funds, contact Lisa Stark Walsh, TMA Foundation, at (800) 880-1300, ext. 1666, or (512) 370-1666.


Know a student who is interested in becoming a physician?  Please visit our Helpful Links.

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