Photo courtesy of Simmons Middle School
Simmons Middle School science teacher Dana Langford was named the 2017 Outstanding Middle School Science Teacher by the Alabama Science Teachers Association.
The Alabama Science Teachers Association this week named Simmons Middle School science teacher Dana Langford as its 2017 Outstanding Middle School Science Teacher.
Langford has been teaching for 20 years and is in her sixth year at Simmons.
She founded the Science and Engineering Club at Simmons and has attended NASA’s Space Camp for Teachers, said Holly Adams, the awards chairwoman for the Alabama Science Teachers Association (ASTA). She also received a grant in 2013 to study volcanoes in Costa Rica.
She is a trainer for the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative and trains teachers throughout the state so they can become certified to teach state science curriculum using AMSTI materials and equipment. This past summer, she trained more than 30 teachers, she said.
Langford said she feels fortunate to teach in an AMSTI school. Before coming to Simmons, she had little knowledge about the program, but after 10 days of training, she became a believer. The training lets teachers go through the same labs their students will go through, having some of the same "a-ha moments" their students will have, she said.
The teachers who complete the training receive thousands of dollars' worth of hands-on materials to use with their students, and they have access to ongoing support from experienced teachers, she said.
"This support is valuable with teachers who are new to the profession and may need support with managing labs and students' behavior, or with an experienced teacher who does not feel comfortable with teaching a new curriculum," Langford said.
Susan Ogle, a former science teacher at Simmons who is a middle school science specialist with the AMSTI program, nominated Langford for this award. “She is a master of helping students in problem solving because she is patient and takes the time for them to figure it out,” Ogle wrote in her nomination letter.
Sabrina Stephens, the PTO president at Simmons, said in a letter of support for Langford that Langford exemplifies how to engage students in learning and demonstrates a personal interest in each student she encounters.
Langford won a $1,000 prize with her new designation and was presented the award at ASTA’s conference this week at the McWane Science Center in Birmingham.
Other award winners were:
- Outstanding Elementary Science Teacher — Amber Moore, New Market School in Madison County
- Outstanding High School Science Teacher — Lorraine Perez, Russellville High School in Russellville City Schools
- Fannie Mae Nelson Teacher of Promise (for teachers with less than three years experience) — Abbey Tipton, Creek View Elementary in Alabaster City Schools
This article was updated at 2:48 p.m. with comments from Langford.