Hurd Finnegan (Davidson High School in Mobile, AL)
||No OEST application
Mrs. Nwakaego (Ego) Okafor (8th grade, Henderson Middle School, Chamblee,
||No OEST application
||No OEST application
||No OEST application
Tom Littlejohn (Greenville, SC)
Tina King (K-6th grade, West Elementary in Mt. Juliet, TN)
to our State OEST Winners!
are biographies of some of the state OEST winners.
EGO OKAFOR - Georgia OEST Winner
Mrs. Okafor teaches 8th grade Earth Science. She has been with the Dekalb
County Schools System in Georgia for 15 years and at Henderson Middle
School for 9 years. Her education includes a B. Sc. (Honors) Zoology and
a Master of Science Education. She anticipates the completion of her Ed.
S. in Science Education in Dec. 2004. She has been the Chair of the Science
Department at Henderson Middle School since 2000.
Ego actively participates in the Science Fair, Partners in Education,
and Textbook committees at her school as well as coaching the SECME (Science,
Engineering, Communications, Math, and Enrichment) team. Ego is an active
member with the National Science Teachers’ Association (NSTA), Georgia
Science Teachers’ Association (GSTA), Pi Lambda Theta (International
Honor Society & Prof. Assoc. In Education). She recently conducted
a workshop titled, "What’s up with weather maps?" at NSTA
conference in April, 2004. Mrs. Okafor has also co-authored THE EARTH
SCIENCE CURRICULUM FOR JUNIORS and she has been involved with the Dekalb
County Schools Earth Science Curriculum Committee and the County Realignment
of the Science Curriculum. Her awards include: Who’s Who Amongst
America’s Teachers 2004, Georgia Earth Science Teacher of the Year
2003, and Who’s Who Amongst America’s Teachers 2002.
Ego's teaching philosophy:
"As a teacher, I believe in motivating students to develop an interest
in science in such a way that would make them high achievers in science.
I aspire to empower my students to believe in their abilities and values
as human beings, in community with others. It’s my responsibility
to mentor and provide them with sound academic foundation. These would
ensure life-long learning and maximization of the students’ potentials.
To achieve this empowerment and foundation, I always strive to establish
a classroom climate that fosters a supportive, compassionate, and collaborative
learning environment, which helps to unleash the students’ innate
Ego's strengths as a teacher include:
- Utilization of my strong academic background, diverse experiences,
pedagogical ideas and instructional strategies learned from conferences
- Effective implementation of technology as a vehicle for personal
empowerment and collaborative work, and as a tool for teaching and student
- Attention to details.
- Effective teaching methods such as discovery-type activities and
other hands-on activities that help foster social skills, critical thinking
skills and higher order learning.
- Ability to empower students to believe in themselves.
- Highly-developed organizational skills
- Support and fairness to all students in order to create a nurturing
TINA KING - SENAGT Regional OEST Winner and the Tennessee State
In 1997, my life as I knew it changed forever. A 55-day trip
out west to hunt for fossils and minerals, as well as to excavate dinosaur
bones, left a lasting mark on my life and teaching. This trip, along with
being an active member of the Tennessee Earth Science Teachers Association,
the Tennessee Educators of Aquatic Marine Sciences, as well as my involvement
in two Middle Tennessee rock clubs, has given me a passion for science
and learning. Earth Science suddenly connected me to learning, and still
today, it seems that I can't learn science fast enough. Who would have
thought that in four short years, I would find myself as a member of a
science research team on a continent devoted to science. In November-December,
2001, I left my classroom for two months to live in a field camp on the
continental coastline of Antarctica near the Ross Ice Shelf. My participation
on this science expedition has also left a lasting mark that will always
stay with me and be a part of my teaching and learning. This experience
was made possible by the National Science Foundation's "Teachers
Experiencing Antarctica and the Arctic" program. Dr. Sam Bowser,
a research scientist at the Wadsworth Center, New York State Department
of Health, led the science expedition. The divers/scientists on this team
dove below 12-feet of ice to collect one-celled organisms called foraminifera.
While in Antarctica, I kept a daily journal with images, which may be
accessed from the calendar on the TEA web page:
http://tea.rice.edu/tea_kingfrontpage.html. When I reflect back to
1997, I realize that a rock, a fossil, and a mineral pulled me into science.
Science has become so ingrained in me that it has now become a part of
my daily life. My goal is to have science touch lives, in much the same
way that Earth Science and Antarctica changed me. For me, Earth Science
started the snowball rolling down the hill. My learning has grown by leaps
and bounds and my hope is to move people along with me. Learning is about
sharing, growing, and moving forward to the next level of learning. My
goal is to pull others into learning and science.
I graduated with a BS degree in education (K-9) from Belmont University
in 1977. I received a Masters in Educational Leadership in 1999 from Trevecca
Nazarene University. I have taught grades K-6, all subjects, including
Title 1 Math for the past 24 years. I am currently teaching at West Elementary
in Mt. Juliet, TN, for the Wilson County School District, with a goal
to pull students of all ages into learning. I have made many presentations
at NSTA and TSTA over the past four years to share curriculum and newly
developed activities. When I received the Presidential Award of Excellence
for Mathematics and Science Teaching in 1999, it gave me the opportunity
to buy my first microscope, as well as enabled me to develop curriculum
to bring hands-on Earth science activities into the classroom (Soil observations,
annual classroom geological dig, ice investigations/ glacier study, and
Antarctic research). I was recently invited to NSF to speak on behalf
of the Antarctic TEA teachers to tell how the Antarctic experience has
been transferred to classrooms. While in Washington, a project manager
for the Office of Polar Programs said that the one thing that he noticed
that kept coming out in my presentation was my apparent love for learning.
I feel that Earth Science changed my learning, and by helping me see the
connections to learning, instilled this value inside of me. This "need"
to learn has been the catalyst for many adventures into learning, whether
snorkeling in a volcano, rafting the Grand Canyon, scuba diving with sea
turtles on the Great Barrier Reef, walking on glaciers in Alaska, or walking
on the frozen Arctic Ocean. My goals for the next few years are to connect
science by incorporating current science research in the Polar Regions
to life in other regions. I will continue to work with Dr. Bowser to transfer
his research to students and teachers by working to develop a micro study
on fossil foraminifera. Foraminifera make a wonderful connection between
the paleo and modern environments (lens on the past and present), as well
as the Earth as a system.
Summer / Fall 2004 main page.
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2005 Newletter Deadline: Feb. 1, 2005. Please send news, items, questions,
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