Cocoa, Fla., August 19, 2019—Six outstanding science teachers received the distinguished Exemplary Science Teacher Award from the Space Coast Science Education Alliance (SCSEA) on August 15 at the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC). The award is given in recognition of Brevard County teachers who go above and beyond to inspire their students to love learning science.
“When SCSEA started this program 21 years ago, it was to encourage exemplary science teachers to keep up their great work, and for the community to say thank you for the sacrifices that teachers and their families make. That goal remains the same,” said Susan Schleith, SCSEA Treasurer and FSEC educator. “Our outstanding science teachers are the key reason Brevard is among the top Florida school districts in science education.”
The unusual “awards” drew much excitement from the awardees. Each teacher received a fossil that had been carefully mounted as a display piece by the Academy of Natural History Preparation, a nonprofit science education organization located in Rockledge. Dr. Mark Mullins, Brevard County Public Schools Superintendent, along with Loren Kingsley, District Secondary Science Resource Teacher and Michelle Ferro, Elementary Science Content Specialist presented the awards with assistance from other SCSEA members. In addition to the elegant banquet provided by Renaissance Catering, each teacher received an honorarium and a one-year membership to the Florida Association of Science Teachers.
The 2019 Exemplary Science Teacher Award winners are (pictured left to right):
- Terrence Haus, John F. Kennedy Middle School, now at Rockledge High School
- Rhonda Ripperger, South Lake Elementary School
- Thomas Englert, Croton Elementary School
- Ellen Muse, Bayside High School
- Lori Reinhardt-Simpson, John F. Kennedy Middle School
- Shelley Ruiz, Enterprise Elementary School
In addition, Ms. Muse and Ms. Ruiz were inducted into the Brevard Science Teacher Hall of Fame. This recognition pays tribute to science teacher leaders with a long and distinguished record of inspiring excellence in science among their students and colleagues. Previously inducted Science Teacher Hall of Fame members present to welcome the new members included: Elizabeth Faulkner (Apollo Elementary), Ryan Cilsick (Edgewood Jr./Sr. High), Michelle Ferro, (District Science Content Specialist), Jana Gabrielski (Suntree Elementary), Raul Montes (Cocoa High), Dr. Scott McCord (Cocoa Beach Jr./Sr. High), Lisa Scott (Satellite High), Meredith Spencer (Edgewood Jr./Sr.), and Guytri Still (Emeritus/SCSEA).
“The value our businesses, industry and community organizations place on science education makes Brevard County a very special place,” said Holly Abeels, SCSEA Secretary and University of Florida IFAS Extension Agent. Numerous and diverse sponsors made the awards program and banquet possible, including gold sponsors Brevard Zoo, Dixie Crossroads Seafood Restaurant, Florida Institute of Technology, Florida Solar Energy Center, and the Viera Company. Silver sponsors were the Academy of Natural History Preparation, Coastal Ambulance Services, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
The SCSEA is a nonprofit representing organizations and individuals who work together to improve scientific education and STEM literacy in Brevard County. For more information about the Exemplary Science Teacher Awards or SCSEA, please visit www.spacecoastscience.org.