Excellence in Science Teaching Awards

TMA continues to receive an outstanding number of nominations and applications for this program. The 2016 Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching received over 470 nominations and 220 applications. 

Please nominate an Outstanding Science Teacher for the 2017 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 2016-17 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 teachers will receive $1,500 each and another $1,000 for their science curriculum as second-place winners!

Nominations for this award will be accepted through November 18, 2016. 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 2017-18 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. 16, 2016. (PDF version  of application for reference.) 

Congratulations to the 2016 Winners!

The Texas Medical Association (TMA) named six Texas science teachers winners of the 2016 TMA Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching. Three first-place prizes were awarded on April 29, 2016, at TexMed, the association’s annual conference, in Dallas. 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:

Lauren Paquette of Hobby Elementary School in Houston, Nancy Brown of Charles Baxter Jr. High School in Everman, and Kenric Davies of Sherman High School in Sherman are this year’s elementary, middle, and high school first-place winners. (See winner bios below.) TMA awards each top recipient a $5,000 cash prize, and each winner’s school receives a $2,000 resource grant toward its science programs.

Second-Place Winners:

Second-place winners are Marisol Rodriguez of Achziger Elementary School in Mesquite, Chelsea Atwell of Austin Academy for Excellence in Garland, and Finny Philip of Berkner High School in Richardson. Second-place winners’ schools each receive a $1,000 resource grant to enhance science classroom learning.

TMA physicians believe this award, and ohters like it, encourage the outstanding science teaching techniques that inspire Texas students to succeed.  Only 36 percent of Texas eighth-graders have achieved proficiency in science, according to the National Science Foundation’s Science and Engineering Indicators 2016 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. Eventually, TMA doctors know, some of these inspired students will choose medicine as a career. Some already have: Several TMA physician leaders were once taught by teachers who later won this award.

"The very best teachers are relentlessly devoted to their students' learning and development.  These special educators are who we honor each year with the TMA Science Teacher Award," said Deborah A. Fuller, MD, president of the TMA Foundation, TMA's philanthropic arm. "Teachers like these help ensure that students appreciate the role of science in understanding our world and how to use scientific information to make daily decisions."

Applicants went through a two-stage evaluation process. First, finalists were determined by a 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 additional gifts from physicians and their families.

2016 TMA Ernest and Sarah Butler Science Teacher Award Winners

 2016 STA Winner Photo

 Pictured left to right: Deborah Fuller, MD - TMA Foundation President; Lauren Paquette of Hobby Elementary in Houston; Nancy Brown of Charles Baxter Jr. High School in Everman; Kenric Davies of Sherman High School in Sherman; and Diana Fite,MD - TMA Board of Trustees and Chair of Educational Scholarship, Loan, & Awards Committee.   


Meet the first-place winners of the 2016 TMA Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching:

Lauren Paquette — Elementary School Winner

Mrs. Paquette teaches kindergarten through fifth grade science lab at Hobby Elementary School in Houston.  "I want students to know that science is in everything," she said.  Mrs. Paquette strives to include hands-on activities wherever possible to show her students how science can be engaging - and even fun.  She encourages her students to think critically and learn from their mistakes.  "In my lab, failure is not an option and although we may struggle, we should never give up.  Her colleagues say Mrs. Paquette constantly looks for ways to do more for Hobby Elementary and its students.  She won several science grants for the school, and through her leadership, Hobby Elementary was chosen for the National Wildlife Foundation's Eco-Campus Partnership Program.  The program teams an American school with a Taiwanese school to collaborate on an eco-friendly project.

Nancy Brown — Middle School Winner

Mrs. Brown teaches eigth grade pre-advanced placement (AP) science at Charles Baxter Junior High School in Everman.  Labeled as learning disabled and diagnosed with attention deficit disorder in her childhood, Mrs.. Brown knows firsthand the need for caring, motivated teachers.  "I knew from the depths of my soul that I needed to teach - and be the teacher that I never had,” she said.  Hands-on learning plays a central role in Mrs. Brown's lessons.  She demonstrates Newton's law of inertia by balancing a spinning tennis ball and wire contraption on her head, then letting her students take turns with the device themselves.  When she teaches topography, her students create detailed 3-D topographic maps.  When she teaches electricity and circuitry, her students build and solder their own electronic device.  "I love to challenge my students and do things that make them feel like they are really doing something amazing. They are active participants."

Kenric Davies — High School Winner

Mr. Davies teaches 11th- and 12th-grade AP physics and astronomy at Sherman High School in Sherman. "The look in a student's eyes when they realize how something works or get the answers to questions like 'why is the sky blue?' or 'how do magnets work?' gives me a sense of purpose, like I am directly participating in the construction of our future," he said.  Mr. Davies cultivates student interest and understanding of science, and emphasizes community involvement.  He sponsors the school's Engineering Team and the Astronomy club, and puts together a Family Science Night every year, where students demonstrate science in action to their families and community.  "I strive to show my students that they will not stop learning when they leave high school; they will continue to learn all throughout their lives and this is something that should excite them."


See what happened during TEXMED 2014



Past Excellence in Science Teaching Award Winners
  Award Category
Year Elementary School Middle School Sr. High School
 2015 First Place:
Patricia Kassir
The Bendwood School

Second Place:
Laura Wilbanks
Whiteface Elementary
First Place:
Joseph Morris
All Saint's Episcopal School
Fort Worth  

Second Place:
Carol Raymond
EA Young Academy
North Richland Hills
First Place:
Anna Loonam
Bellaire High School

Second Place:
Theresa Lawrence
Friendswood High School
 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., Ste 100
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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