Upper School science teacher Dr. Kelley Bethoney has been awarded the 2018 Pennsylvania Outstanding Biology Teacher Award, presented by the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT).
"I am honored and thrilled to be chosen to receive this award," shared Dr. Bethoney.
Dr. Bethoney's teaching philosophy involves providing engaging, challenging, and dynamic science experiences for all of her students. "Making science concepts, in all of my courses, easily accessible for my students is one of the tenets of my teaching philosophy," explained Dr. Bethoney. "It is my goal to provide an environment that fosters students' natural curiosity. I want to maximize learning time with students in a way that is meaningful, efficient, and engaging, to all."
Dr. Bethoney left full-time research and joined The Episcopal Academy community in 2009. She teaches Upper School Biology, Honors Human Anatomy and Physiology, and an Independent Study in Biochemistry. She works closely with her colleagues to regularly incorporate novel experiments and activities in the classroom. Over the last five years, she has also designed several short survey science courses offered during January Term to provide students with a glimpse of science areas of study not offered at the high school level. "My goal is to help my students to draw connections to concepts we are learning to occurrences in their everyday lives and the community at large," said Dr. Bethoney.
During most summers, Dr. Bethoney performs cutting-edge research at Temple University Health System's Fox Chase Cancer Center where her work focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms behind hematopoiesis. She often ties her own experiences in her research to classroom learning in both her freshman and upper-level classes. "I strive to draw parallels between my research and real-world scenarios to drive the experiential education portion of science learning in my classroom," said Dr. Bethoney. She also brings experiential learning to her science lab through advising EA's chapter of the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS). She encourages students to apply their classroom knowledge to their own unique research projects.
This year, eighteen EA students won first place awards, four special regional awards, and two rare perfect score awards at the highly competitive PJAS regional meet. At the state-level competition, PJAS students earned 11 first place awards and a perfect score award. "The PJAS lab space is always open for students to work on their own, unique projects and explore new ideas," explained Dr. Bethoney. "The lab is constantly bustling with activity from the start of the school day. With the help of several faculty members, who assist in PJAS mentorship, we work with students to foster the development of young, scientific minds in a wide range of STEM subject areas."
Dr. Bethoney will receive the NABT Pennsylvania Outstanding Biology Teacher Award plaque at a special presentation during the NABT National Convention in San Diego in November.
"Receiving this award is extremely gratifying in my quest to teach students how awe-inspiring and diverse biology can be," said Dr. Bethoney.