K-4 Educator of the Year 2016 
Risa Elder

This year’s winner for grades K-4 is Risa Elder who teaches 3rd grade science and 4th and 5th grade STEM at Tara Oaks Elementary Schools. Risa has been teaching for 24 years and her teaching philosophy is focused on helping students connect science to their everyday lives. She has directed multiple STEM-based summer camps, collaborated with other teachers to assist them in starting their own STEM clubs, and presented a professional development session about implementing the Picture Perfect Science program in other elementary teachers’ classrooms. Risa has also been awarded a grant to begin a competitive Vex IQ Robotics Team.

5-8 Educator of the Year 2016
Virginia Cooter

This year’s winner for grades 5-8 is Virginia Cooter who teachers 6-8 science at Baileyton Elementary School. She has been teaching for 36 years and her teaching philosophy is focused on inquiry-based lessons that encourage students to go beyond the classroom. Virginia has represented Greene County K-12 science as a district learning leader, directed the Greene County Science Fair, and served as a consultant for the TN Academy of Science. She has participated as a teacher leader in many initiatives with the State Department of Education, including standards development and leading professional development offerings.  She has also been recognized as the Greene County Schools Teacher of the Year in 2015, 2008, 2005, and 1998, as voted on by her peers, and in 2011, given by the district.

9-12 Educator of the Year 2016
Doug Murray

This year’s winner for grades 9-12 is Douglas Murray who teaches Physical S Science and Biology at Brentwood High School. His teaching philosophy is focused on creating classroom experiences where students enjoy, learn, and really connect with science and using that to one day make a better society. Doug has been a teacher leader in various cohorts including the Williamson County Schools Physical Science PLC, the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, and Biology PLC. He has also been on the Adventure Science Center Teacher Advisory Group, and he was selected as the University of Tennessee award winner for having the top school-based recycling program in the state.

College Educator of the Year 2016
Richard Clements

This year’s winner for higher education is Dr. Richard Clements who teaches freshman and sophomore environmental science at Chattanooga State Community College. Dr. Clements has been teaching for 23 years and his teaching philosophy is focused on teaching so that students understand science to be relevant to them as individuals and to better equip them to make more informed decisions about their personal lives and society as a whole. Dr. Clements is the lead instructor for all environmental science courses at Chattanooga State Community College, and he is also involved in a number of community education programs.  He is a volunteer instructor in multiple adult Tennessee Naturalist Programs, is an instructor for the Reflection Riding Native Plant Certification classes, and is the Vascular Plant Taxon Leader at Reflection Riding BioBlitz. Dr. Clements is also the current president of the Barnard Astronomical Society of Chattanooga.

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