Virginia Association of Science Teachers

VAST Recognition In Science Education (RISE) Awards

VAST RISE Awards are presented to spotlight the excellent work done by science educators across the Commonwealth. They recognize service to science education in the individual's school, school system, and the VAST district in which they work. The awards are grouped in twelve distinct categories:

  • Remote Teaching (elementary, middle, high school)
  • Elementary (pre K-5)
  • Middle school (6-8)
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Science
  • Physics
  • Environmental Science
  • At-Risk Students (K-12)
  • Resource Teacher (examples: Technology, Science Resource, Etc.)
  • Science Educator (non K-12-Examples Science Supervisor, Information Education, Principal, Etc.)
  • University/College Faculty
  • Community Partnership (example: Businesses, Politicians, Other Organizations, Etc.)

The number of awards to be given each year will be determined by the Awards Selection Committee based on the qualifications of the nominees. The awardees are invited to attend the VAST Virtual PDI and will be recognized during the PDI.

Awards Nomination deadline is September 30.

Applicant does not need to be a VAST member.

To apply: click here to complete online. 

Elementary (K-6) Teachers: Apply for the 2024 Donna Sterling Exemplary Science Teaching Award

Elementary (K-6) Teachers: Apply for the 2024 Donna Sterling Exemplary Science Teaching Award

Donna Sterling was a visionary science educator with a passion for working with science teachers and developing habits of inquiry-based teaching. Her leadership in the Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA) focused on elementary and secondary teacher professional development. This award recognizes that exemplary teachers engage in continuous improvement and is designed to support a professional development plan for the improvement of science teaching.

In 2024, the award will be given to one exemplary elementary teacher (grade preK-6). 6th grade teachers in elementary settings are eligible to apply for this award.

The awardee will receive a total of $4000; $3000 at the VAST PDI in 2024, held in Williamsburg, VA November 13-16, 2024. The remainder will be awarded after the awardee presents at the next VAST PDI and submits an article to the newsletter The Science Educator or the Journal of Virginia Science Education. In addition, registration and travel costs will be reimbursed to attend the 2024 VAST PDI to receive the award and to the 2025 VAST PDI to present a session on the professional development experience and outcomes.

Deadline for Applications

August 16, 2024, 5pm

To Apply: 

1.   Provide a cover letter that includes your preferred name, your home and school addresses, phone number(s), and email address(es) where you can be reached. Tell us how many years you have taught, where, and what subjects and grade levels.

2.  In no more than 2 single-spaced pages, describe an inquiry-based science unit that you have taught. Describe how your unit is student-centered and includes community engagement. Provide evidence that the unit was effective. Evidence documents such as student work can be submitted separately and do not count toward the two-page limit.

3. In no more than 2 single-spaced pages, describe your plan for professional development, using the funds received through the Sterling award. Plans may include summer courses, workshop attendance, study abroad, instructional material development under expert guidance, etc. Feel free to be creative in your plan. Submit the professional development description with anticipated outcomes, including plans for a presentation at the 2025 VAST PDI. Tell how this award will help you become a better science teacher and support the development of your leadership skills. Tell about your plans for writing an article about your experience.

4. Submit 3 letters of recommendation based on direct observations of your teaching. One letter must be from a science supervisor or someone serving in that capacity, a second letter must be from the principal, assistant principal, or instructional leader, and a third letter must be from a fellow teacher or a parent. Letters should address the following: Why is this teacher a good candidate for this award? What qualities do they exhibit as teachers that make the recommender think they will use the funds from the award to improve their practice as teachers of science?

Email the complete application packet, including letters of recommendation and supporting materials to Dr. Jennifer L. Maeng, jlc7d@virginia.eduwith Sterling Award Application as the subject. 

Virginia Outstanding Biology Teacher Award

Every year, an outstanding Virginia biology educator (grades 7-12) is recognized with the Virginia Outstanding Biology Teacher Award (VOBTA) and receives the National Association of Biology Teachers Outstanding Biology Teacher Award (OBTA) for Virginia. Candidates for these awards do not have to be NABT or Virginia Association of Biology Teachers (VABT) members, but they must have at least three years of public, private, or parochial school teaching experience. A major portion of the nominee's career must have been devoted to the teaching of biology/life science, and candidates are judged on their teaching ability and experience, cooperativeness in the school and community, and student-teacher relationships. The VOBTA recipient is the special guest of VABT at the annual Virginia Association of Science Teachers (VAST) Professional Development Institute (PDI) Awards Dinner. Here, the winner is recognized at the VAST Awards Ceremony and receives a plaque for themselves and their school. At the NABT National Convention, they are the guest of Carolina Biology Supply Company at the Honors Luncheon held at the NABT Professional Development Conference, receive gift certificates from Carolina Biological Supply Company, resources from other sponsors, and award certificates and complimentary one-year membership from NABT. For information and/or to nominate or apply, please contact Kathy Frame at Deadline tba.

Virginia Association of Science Teachers

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