Benjamin Fowler and Julie Golden of Oak Ridge High School and Scot Smith of Robertsville Middle School have been named as Outstanding Educators for 2017 by Humanities Tennessee. Three of this year’s six recipients of the award are from Oak Ridge Schools. According to Humanities Tennessee, the Outstanding Educator Awards recognize teachers who have demonstrated excellence in teaching the humanities and who encourage the humanities to be an important part of their students’ lives. Each of the recipients, selected from a pool of nominees from across the state, receive a $2,000 fellowship to further their professional development in the humanities; their schools receive $1,500 for humanities programs and materials, a press release said.
Julie Golden, Spanish, Oak Ridge High School
Golden has been teaching 13 years and uses an anthropological approach to language learning, the press release said.
“It is important that students in my class have not only a knowledge of the language structure, syntax, and vocabulary, but also a cultural appreciation and connection to native Spanish-speakers…it is my professional obligation to create these opportunities,” Golden said.
Her methods are innovative, employing Skype interviews with survivors of the Salvadoran civil war and developing student-driven projects partnering with the micro-financing service Kiva.org, the release said Golden will use her professional development award to solidify educational connections with a sister school in Peru.
Benjamin Fowler, English-Theatrical Literature/Performance, Oak Ridge High School
Fowler has been teaching 10 years, and his philosophy of teaching mirrors the mission of Humanities Tennessee, the press release said.
“My goal is not the focus on immediate response in learning, but (for my students) to examine the complex issues affecting them,” Fowler said.
Fowler brings this philosophy to bear in all of his lessons, whether compositional or performance-driven. One of his students explored the themes of William Faulkner through modern dance.
His professional development award will allow him to attend the world renowned Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada.
Scot Smith, Library Media Specialist, Robertsville Middle School
Smith has been teaching for 25 years, and the committee, simply put, wanted to clone him. Co-chair of Tennessee’s Volunteer State Book Award, nationwide expert on YA literature, puppeteer, and a hero to fellow teachers and students alike, Smith has made his mark in education, the press release said.
“His colleagues, administrators, students, and their parents all describe Scot’s uncanny ability to select the right book for the right child at the right time,” the press release said. He will use his professional development award to travel to two book festivals and to help cover expenses for the American Library Association’s mid-winter conference in Denver.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
This press release was submitted by Holly Cross.
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