Julie Mitchell, a geology teacher from Erie High School in Erie, Colo., has been named the 2017 American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) Foundation's Teacher of the Year.
The Teacher of the Year (TOTY) award, funded and presented annually by the AAPG Foundation, is intended to honor and encourage excellence in geoscience education. Mitchell, who has taught high school earth science for more than 20 years, was chosen as the top teacher by a panel of national judges.
Upon being notified of the honor, Mitchell said she is "incredibly honored and humbled to be receiving the prestigious AAPG 2017 TOTY award.
"I'm excited beyond words to be part of the energy and knowledge at the ACE convention," she said. "And, to be part of the 100-year celebration … is a once in a lifetime opportunity."
She is passionate about teaching geology and environmental science to her students in a balanced classroom that allows them to "discover and do science, not just take notes." Mitchell's award includes a $6,000 prize, half allocated to Mitchell for her own personal use and the other half designated to Erie High School for educational use under Mitchell's supervision. She also will receive an all-expense paid trip for two to the 2017 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition in Houston, set for April 2-5, where she will be presented with her award at the All-Convention Luncheon.
"Julie has been a strong leader and champion for the promotion of geology and earth science education," said Erie High School Principal Matt Buchler. "She has led numerous district level teams in reviewing curriculum, adopting textbooks, and educating other science teachers and administrators about the importance of geology in the high school curriculum."
Mitchell was one of four finalists for the annual TOTY award — each one selected as the top geoscience educator in their respective geographic regions. Mitchell was nominated by AAPG's Rocky Mountain Section. The remaining semi-finalists each receive honorable mentions and $500 awards from the AAPG Foundation. They are Dylan Canavan, Hinsdale Central High School, Hinsdale, Ill. (Eastern Section); Leigh Marsh, Marvin Baker Middle School, Corpus Christi, Texas (Gulf Coast Section); and Martha "Molly" (Deich) Shaw, New Brighton Middle School, Capitola, Calif. (Pacific Section).
The AAPG Foundation was established in 1967 with the primary goal of providing a source of funding for educational, charitable and scientific objectives, which directly and indirectly benefit the geologic profession and the general public. The Teacher of the Year award honors that intention by giving this accolade to the heart of geoscience educational initiatives – grades K-12. The Teacher of the Year award began in 1996 and has since honored 20 outstanding earth science teachers across the country.