Outstanding Science Teachers for 2001

by Harry F. Pomeroy, Jr. Awards Chairman, NMAS

At the annual NMAS meeting on 17, November, Brenda Brannen and Dr. Ervin Pfeifle were presented with a Nambeware tray with their names and “NMAS Outstanding Teacher for 2001” inscribed. The Central New Mexico Section of the American Chemical Soci- ety presented $250 to each teacher. A tote bag containing Museum items, posters, and science curriculum was given by the NM Museum of Natural History and Science.

The Awards Committee had a number of deserving nominations to review for the 2001 Outstanding Science Teacher Award; and we had a difficult time in deciding who should be honored. My thanks to John Atkins and Larry Powell, science instructors at Clovis Community College, and to Larry Stutts, retired science teacher and past-President of NMAS, for serving on the selection panel.

Brenda Brannen

Brenda Brannen was chosen as the 2001 Outstanding Elementary Science Teacher by the NMAS.

She graduated with honors from the University of Houston in 1973 with a major in elementary education and a minor in psychology. She taught first grade at Benbrock elementary in Houston, Texas in 1974 and then moved to Roswell, NM, and concentrated on her family for a few years.

In 1978 she returned to teaching at her children’s preschool, where she taught three- and four-year olds for two years and became Director of Trinity Methodist Preschool. She worked at this excellent preschool for six years before returning to the public schools.

Mrs. Brannen has been teaching 4th-6th graders since 1986. She currently teachers at El Capitan School in Roswell. She is in a departmentalized situation which allows her to teach science to 5th and 6th graders every day. She believes in hands-on teaching which includes labs at least twice a week. She has been Science Chairperson for eleven years and has served on many district and school committees. One of her favorite projects is the Marsville Project sponsored by the United States Air Force. This is a three-month curriculum commitment in which students plan a colony on Mars.

One of her colleagues describes Mrs. Brannen’s labs…”in these labs she uses everyday materials to apply scientific facts. Some labs include onions to study roots, make bread to show an example of a good fungus, and bake a cake to show chemical change.” Mrs. Brannen’s principal relates that when Brenda started to teach at El Capitan, “She was terrified: she actually had expected to teach kindergarten. However, she agreed to be the science teacher, and the rest is history. She is now a dedicated science teacher devoted to teaching science concepts to her fifth and sixth graders.”

Ervin A. Pfeifle, Ph.D

Ervin A. Pfeifle was chosen as the 2001 Outstanding Sec- ondary science Teacher by the NMAS.

He earned a B.S. and M.S. in biology/chemistry from the University of Texas El Paso and a Ph.D. in management from the University of Texas. Dr. Pfeifle taught pre-AP chemistry, AP chemistry and pre-AP physics from 1971 to 2001 in the El Paso Independent School District. After retiring from Texas, he moved to Las Cruces in 2001 and is currently teaching pre-AP chemistry, microbiology and medical terminology.

Some of his awards are: Master Teacher of Chemistry, Texas (2000, University of Texas/Texas Education Agency); Catalyst Award (2001, American Chemistry Council’s Responsible Care Award as National Chemistry Teacher of the Year); and the Radio Shack National Teacher Award (2002).

He has been an active curriculum writer for 25 years, including preparing guidelines for AP environmental science.

Ervin’s principal is impressed by his creative teaching…”his chemistry labs are paragons of ‘hands-on’ learning and con- tain a crucial relevance that students quickly understand.”

A former student, who now practices medicine in Michigan, states… “[he] was able to communicate chemistry concepts and provide the most up-to-date data….He made chemistry the most intersting class of my high school experience and launched my interest in the field of pharmaceutical medicine.”