Meet Our Winners

2018 Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching


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First-place winners:

A'ndrea Fisher — Elementary School Winner

305093 STA 2018 WinnersMrs. Fisher teaches first-grade science at Freiheit Elementary School in New Braunfels. She encourages her students get “messy” and explore the world around them. “The messiness of learning really opens up the minds of my students,” Mrs. Fisher says. She is not afraid to bring silliness into her classroom, dressing up in costumes on days her class conducts hands-on experiments. “Kids want to have fun, and they learn so much through play,” she says. Mrs. Fisher’s infectious enthusiasm for learning spreads to her students. “A’ndrea’s first grade classroom is where students develop a love for science,” says Sara Elley, Campus Instructional Coach for Freiheit Elementary. “It is a common occurrence to see her former students flagging her down in the halls because of the significant impact she has had on their education.”

Quote from essay: "My goal as an educator is to foster curiosity for the world around us, develop respect for self, others and the community at large, enhance appreciation for the small things in life, and build strong young people willing to keep exploration and discovery alive. "

Application Materials


Julie Frey — Middle School Winner

305093 STA 2018 Winners2Mrs. Frey teaches sixth grade life science at Trinity Valley School in Fort Worth. She structures her curriculum so her students feel like true scientists in the field. They keep observational journals and have opportunities to create their own experiments. “I am ardent in providing an environment where students practice critical thinking, inquiry, and problem-solving skills,” she says. “If I can make a connection between my classroom and the outside world, I have created a lifelong learner.” Mrs. Frey is a special kind of teacher — one who inspires a love for science, say Neta and Corey Mandel, parents of two graduates of Mrs. Frey’s class. “Through her presentations and interactive labs, [students] come away not just with knowledge of protists, fungi, and even yeast, but an actual emotional attachment. To us, that is what makes an outstanding teacher.” 

Quote from essay: "Science is so much a part of me that I could not go a day without crossing its path. I feel I am in a constant motion of learning, researching, and desiring to create innovators in my classroom."

Application Materials


Norma Burke — High School Winner

305093 STA 2018 Winners3Mrs. Burke teaches Pre-AP biology at Early College High School in Houston. “I believe that all students should have an opportunity to explore and feel wonder about what they are doing,” she says. “My passion as a teacher is having students succeed not only in my classroom but in life.” Mrs. Burke goes the extra mile, helping students relate to science so they not only understand the concepts but develop the knowledge and confidence to explain them. Colleagues praise her success at engaging students from all walks of life in science. “Her ability to reach students from disadvantaged backgrounds and give them opportunities to learn in proactive, differentiated methods” is one of Mrs. Burke’s true strengths, says Early College High School principal Jeff Hutchinson. “She has so many positive attributes that make her a top-flight teacher.” 

Quote from essay:  "I believe that every student no matter their level deserve a fair chance at life. I believe that all students should have an opportunity to explore and feel wonder about what they are learning. My passion as a teacher is having students succeed not only in my classroom but in life"

Application Materials


Second-place winners: 

Christi Fuchs — Elementary School Winner

2nd Elem-Fuchs.ChristiChristi Fuchs teaches at Hunt Elementary School in Cuero.  

Quote from essay: "I want my learners to be thinkers and problem solvers not just speakers of facts.  This requires careful lesson planning and this is also where I have the most fun!"



Megan Ngo — Middle School Winner

2nd Mid-Megan.NgoMegan Ngo teaches at W. P. McLean Middle School in Fort Worth.

Quote from essay: "Grit, perseverance, determination and stamina are interchangeable words that I reference often in teaching. It is important to lead by example. My students know there is no wall or barrier that we cannot knock down."



Anne Marie Wakefield — High School Winner

2nd Sr High-Wakefield.AnneMarieAnne Marie Wakefield teaches at Carnegie Vanguard High School in Houston.

Quote from essay:  "I work hard to ensure I give my students the same encouragement because I believe every single one of them can exceed even the highest expectations and the goals we set.  I put my heart into teaching and utilize my energy, experience, and empathy to help all students succeed.  "


Third-place winners: 

Kelly Suarez — Elementary School Winner

3rd Elem-Suarez.KellyKelly Suarez teaches at Thompson Elementary School in Haslet.  

Quote from essay: "I strive to impact and inspire a child through my encouragement, caring and passion for learning."




Usha Devathosh — High School Winner

3rd SrHigh-Devathosh.UshaUsha Devathosh teaches at North Houston Early College High School in Houston.

Quote from essay: "My philosophy of teaching, inextricably entwines my enthusiasm and passion for chemistry and get students ask questions about their observation and think chemistry as a process of inquiry. I believe each student is unique, capable of learning and allowed to utilize their particular gifts and talent to create personal success."

Rookie winners: 

Hannah Cotten — Elementary School Winner

Rookie-Elem-Cotten.Hannah3Hannah Cotten teaches at Hill Elementary School in Austin.  

Quote from essay: "I love helping students learn to think for themselves, apply what they learn to real world instances and be excited about the world and all that is in it."



Julia Julian — Middle School Winner

Rookie-Mid-Julian.JuliaJulia Julian teaches at Lamar Middle School in Austin.

Quote from essay: "I believe that there is power within collaboration between students, curriculum, and teachers. Learning and discovery is a collaborative process."



JoAnna Rogowski — High School Winner

Rookie-SrHigh-Rogowski.JoAnnaJoAnna Rogowski teaches at IDEA College Prep Mission in Mission.

Quote from essay:  "My goal is for all my students to leave my classroom with more science knowledge and the confidence to succeed in whatever discipline they choose."




For a Full List of Winners Click Here


Recognition of the Program

The Senate of the State of Texas was pleased to recognize May 9, 2017, as the Texas Medical Association Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching Day. This special occasion took place in conjunction with National Teacher Appreciation Day. 




Ernest and Sarah Butler Award for Excellence in Science Teaching main page

Last Updated On

June 15, 2018