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BP Recognizes Seven Fairbanks Teachers of Excellence

FAIRBANKS (April 11, 2013) – Seven teachers from the Fairbanks North Star School District will be honored as 2013 BP Teachers of Excellence. The 18th Annual BP Teachers of Excellence awards dinner will be held at the Wedgewood Resort on April 23 at 6 p.m.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough BP Teachers of Excellence are:
Aubree Diaz
Badger Road Elementary School
Kate Doran
West Valley High School
Carrie Heimer
West Valley High School
Robert Lockwood
Randy Smith Middle School
Lesa Meath
Barnette Magnet School
Brent Rodenberger
Mari Grace Torgerson
Pearl Creek Elementary School
Nordale Elementary School
The BP Teachers of Excellence program recognizes teachers from throughout Alaska for their dedication to teaching and for inspiring students. The BP Teachers of Excellence program expanded last year becoming available to all Alaska school districts.  Nearly 1,400 nominations were received this year. The seven Fairbanks teachers are among more than 30 Alaska educators being honored as 2013 Teachers of Excellence.
Each BP Teacher of Excellence receives a $500 gift card and an award certificate. In addition, the teacher’s school receives a matching $500 grant. One Fairbanks teacher will be chosen as BP’s Teacher of the Year to be announced at the April 23 reception.  That teacher will receive a $1,500 scholarship for continuing education and a bronze sculpture by Alaska artist Mary Regat.
“Recognizing outstanding Alaska educators is among the most rewarding and important aspects of BP’s investment in Alaska,” said Phil Cochrane, Vice President of External Affairs, BP Exploration (Alaska). “It is an honor to say thank you to these teachers who are investing themselves to make sure Alaska’s young people are receiving the best possible education as they head down the path to future success.”
Teachers of Excellence bios:
Aubree Diaz teaches kindergarten at Badger Road Elementary School. Diaz believes modeling her love for learning for her students inspires them to want to learn and fosters success in school. Her classroom is set to accommodate the diverse learning styles of the students, and it is designed to be fun and engaging while predictable and structured. By encouraging self-confidence in each child, Diaz helps her students develop self-discipline and personal strength. She is also a running coach, indoor soccer coach and a creative movement and dance instructor who believes great pride and confidence come from these activities.
Kate Doran teaches science at West Valley High School. Teaching for nearly 40 years, Doran still gets great joy out of watching her science students take the concept of the day, apply it to what they know, and pick up new implications of the idea. She says the challenge is to help students to ask interesting questions and then use their gifts to explore answers. With an opportunity to teach in Australia, Tanzania, West Bengal, and rural Alaska, Doran brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to how people learn and what inspires them. Ever year she helps her students plant an experimental garden and food is shared with the Fairbanks Community Food Bank.
Carrie Heimer teaches English at West Valley High School. Heimer establishes and maintains concrete expectations of excellence in her classroom and believes her greatest innovation is to say “no” to students and then provide a path to “yes.” Hearing no, she believes, is the catalyst for reflection, creation, evaluation and compassion. Teaching in her hometown of Fairbanks she is also an active poet and she partners with UAF English professors who visit her creative writing classes.
Robert Lockwood is the music director at Randy Smith Middle School. Lockwood decided to be a music teacher in 7th grade because music was what kept him interested in school. He believes the best way to inspire students is to get to know them as individuals, share his passion for learning and music, and help students feel safe to be themselves and safe to fail. The only music teacher in the school, Lockwood teaches band, orchestra, choir, guitar, jazz, and world music. He also participates in community music events and leads a rock-a-thon fundraiser for the school music department.
Lesa Meath teaches 2nd grade at Barnette Magnet School. Meath teaches her students to be a little more independent each day and recognizes each as a unique member of the class with many gifts to contribute. She believes modeling is an effective teaching tool and will think aloud in front of her students, demonstrating how to solve a math problem, read a new word, or compose a piece of writing. Active in several professional organizations, Meath is a frequent presenter at local, state and national conferences and has taught at UAS and UAF as an adjunct faculty member. Staying current on research and learning is a priority for her.
Brent Rodenberger teaches grades 4-6 at Pearl Creek Elementary School. Rodenberger strives to make his classroom a welcome place where he sets high expectations and provides students the tools to reach them. He believes in student accountability, creating chances to improve, and not forgetting to communicate success when it occurs. Learning with Mr. Rodenberger includes field trips to UAF, the Morris Thompson Cultural Center, annual visits to Creamer’s Field and even trips to Anchorage or Seward.  The students sell Sky Lanterns, put on spaghetti feeds and bake sales, and hold raffles to pay for their travel. They also donate some portion of their proceeds to a local charity each year.

Mari Grace Torgerson teaches 5th grade at Nordale Elementary School. Torgerson started her teaching career at age 10, setting up her own kindergarten summer school for the young neighborhood children. She did until her parents made her get a “real” job at age 14 and start saving for college. For the past 32 years, she has been a professional teacher who helps students become successful learners by creating a cooperative team environment in her classroom. Students take ownership of their education by hosting student-led parent conferences and holding a weekly class meeting. Torgerson runs a school-wide reading program, helps the 6th graders produce an annual Yearbook and is the coach for the Nordale Robotics Club. She genuinely cares about her students and they know it.

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