It is our great pleasure to announce the 2015 NMAS Outstanding Science Teachers: Turtle Haste and Anna Suggs.
Turtle Haste has been teaching science for 25 years and currently teaches 7th and 8th grade science at Desert Ridge Middle School in Albuquerque. She has a B.S. in Physical Geography from the University of Central Missouri and an Masters in Science Education from Oregon State University.
She is a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certified Teacher in Early Adolescent Science. She holds a NASA Endeavor Fellow STEM Certificate from Columbia University Teacher College. In 2007 she was a NOAA Teacher at Sea, in 2014-2015 she was named a Teachers For Global Classrooms Fellow, and in 2015 she was honored as one of the New Mexico Women of STEM for her contributions in motivating young women to pursue education and careers in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
Ms. Haste is known for her connections with researchers around the world, showing her students how the topics they study are being explored by scientists. Her students have exchanged e-mails, packages and the occasional video hook-up with researchers in Antarctica. Student work on a sun shadows project—measuring the length of shadows at different locations around the world at consistent times between the autumnal equinox and winter solstice—was the first middle school science project ever accepted for presentation to the American Geophysical Union, the major annual professional meeting for geophysicists.
She has taught the summer program for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (held at Stanford University) from 2005 to 2015. She has participated in the American Meteorological Society DatasStreme Project from 2010 to 2015 (serving as Local Literacy Implementation Team (LIT) coordinator for New Mexico) and the NOAA Climate Stewards Educational program from 2011 to 2015 (with involvement through project wiki, professional development opportunities focusing on climate, on-line digital meetings, sponsoring a local climate stewardship project, and serving on the Teacher at Sea initial applicant review committee).
Her nominator for the NMAS Award said the following about her: “She uses her curiosity, knowledge, and awe of the physical world around her to instill excitement in her students. When she introduces basic and very important scientific concepts, she does so in fun and entertaining ways.”
Anna Suggs has been a sixth grade teacher for 21 years. For the last 15 years, she has been teaching sixth grade science at Zia Middle School in Las Cruces NM. She has a B.S. in agricultural animal science and an M.A. in curriculum and instruction, both from New Mexico State University.
During her tenure at Zia Middle School, she has been instrumental in implementing and participating in multiple afterschool science and technology programs, including the following: SEMAA (Science, Engineering Math and Aerospace Academy) through New Mexico State University; GUTS (Growing Up Thinking Scientifically) Computer Program; BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology) Robotics Teams; and the Technology Students Association. Her students at Zia also have worked in coordination with Spaceport America to build and launch small rockets carrying payloads.
Her desire to inspire young scientists has led to her (and her students’) participation in the NASA Remote Sensing Earth Science Teacher Program in cooperation with Goddard Space F;ight Center. Ms. Suggs and her students have been doing research at White Sands National Monument for 5 years. The research was to determine the impact of human activity on the dune field and the students worked with satellite data and a small UAV flown by the local model airplane club. This research has involved hundreds of students as well as teachers, university personnel, members of the model airplane club, and parents. She has also frequently taught other science teachers at summer institutes and science conferences.
In 2015, she received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, one of only 102 mathematics and science teachers from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Department of Defense Education Activity to receive the award.
Ms. Suggs said the award is affirmation and inspiration to her, "The award affirms that the years of hard work, of constantly refining the art of teaching science, have been recognized," she said. "The inspiration is that, now that I have the award, I must continue work to empower my students and colleagues with a love of science and learning."
New Mexico Academy of Science