Excellence in Science Teaching Awards

TMA continues to receive an outstanding number of nominations and applications for this program. The 2014 Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching received over 350 nominations and 190 applications. 

Please nominate an Outstanding Science Teacher for the 2015 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 2014-15 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 25, 2014. 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 2015-16 school year.

Requirements of the application include:

        *  Completed application
        *  Educational History and Professional Development
        *  Letters of Support (3) - Supervisor, Colleague, and Student or Parent
        *  Professional Question Essays (2) - 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. 31, 2014. (PDF version  of application for reference.) 


Information regarding 2014 recipients will be posted by April 20th!

  Congratulations to the 2013 Winners!

 The Texas Medical Association (TMA) awarded six Texas science teachers with the 2013 TMA Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching. First-place prizes were awarded today to elementary, middle, and high school teachers at the association’s annual conference in San Antonio. These educators help create tomorrow’s physicians by inspiring students in the field of science.

Martha McLeod of Fulton 4-5 Learning Center in Rockport, Mary Jean Tykoski of Cooper Junior High School in Wylie, and Jodie Deinhammer of Coppell High School in Coppell are this year’s elementary, middle, and high school winners in the competition (see winner bios below). TMA awards each recipient a $5,000 cash prize, and their school receives a $2,000 resource grant towards its science programs. 

Second-place winners are Liberty Heise of The Girls’ School of Austin in Austin, Dana Clark of Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School in Dallas, and Anna Loonam of Bellaire High School in Bellaire. Schools of the second-place winners’ receive a $500 resource grant to enhance science classroom learning.

According to the National Science Foundation’s Science and Engineering Indicators 2012 report, only 29 percent of Texas eighth-graders and 29 percent of fourth-graders have achieved proficiency in science. The TMA Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching can help improve these numbers by recognizing innovative teachers and providing them resources to continue motivating 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; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, which has generously supported this program for nine years; Dr. Gerard and Mrs. Carrie Ventura of Nacogdoches, who have supported the program for two years; and the Potter Randall County Medical Society in Amarillo.   



2013 STA Winners

2013 STA Winners
Pictured left to right: MJ Tykoski of Cooper Junior High school in Wylie; Ernest Butler, MD; Sarah Butler; Jodie Deinhammer of Coppell High School in Coppell; Martha McLeod of Fulton 4-5 Learning Center in Rockport.  

Meet the winners of the 2013 TMA Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching:

  Martha McLeod — Elementary School Winner

Mrs. McLeod teaches fourth and fifth grade students at the Fulton 4-5 Learning Center in Rockport. She earned her bachelor of science degree from Texas A&M University and her post-graduate teacher certification specializing in biology from West Texas State University. “[Mrs.McLeod] truly is the dedicated, creative, and hard-working teacher that all teachers should strive to be,” said Jeremy Saegert, principal of Fulton 4-5 Learning Center. “I embrace teaching as an opportunity to inspire and empower students to feel personally changed by the experience of learning,” said Mrs. McLeod. Her students look forward to taking care of a wide variety of class pets such as hedgehogs and snakes and  take pride in joining her competitive birding team or volunteering for the local aquarium. The National Teachers Hall of Fame (NTHF) inducted Mrs. McLeod into its NTHF Class of 2013. Each year only five teachers across the country are selected for the honor.

Mary Jean Tykoski — Middle School Winner

Mrs. Tykoski teaches eighth grade science at Cooper Junior High School in Wylie. She earned her bachelor of science degree in education from the University of Michigan. Her love of science was influenced at very early age by her father, and she constantly read science books while other kids were playing. Her students’ parents and colleagues describe her as a great motivator and say she is always preparing her students for their future. Principal Tami Nauyokas of Cooper Junior High School said, “Her positive attitude and love of science and children are reflected in the outstanding quality of science instruction that she has worked to develop and promote in her classroom.”  

Jodie Deinhammer — High School Winner

Mrs. Deinhammer teaches 11th- and 12th-grade anatomy and physiology classes at Coppell High School. She graduated with a bachelor of science degree from the University of North Texas and is working towards her master’s of science in education at Texas Christian University. “She is a master at guiding her pupils through their learning journey in biology,” said Jeff Turner, superintendent of Coppell Independent School District. Mrs. Deinhammer said, “For me motivating a student to want to learn is much more powerful than watching them memorize basic facts that they won’t recall in a week anyway.” Her students agree that she is a great motivator and mentor, and creates a smooth transition from high school to college through her teaching.  

Past Excellence in Science Teaching Award Winners  


Winner Names - School, City (when available)

 2013 Martha McLeod
Fulton 4-5 Learning Center
Mary Jean Tykoski
Cooper Junior High School 
Jodie Deinhammer
Coppell 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.

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