EAC Announces EASI 2017 STEM Educators of the Year

Contributed Photo/Courtesy EAC: Paul Anger, EASI director, left, presents Educator of the Year awards to Becky Bell, Duncan High School teacher, middle, and Thatcher fifth-grade teacher Allie Wren.

By Paul Anger

THATCHER — Eastern Arizona College’s (EAC) Eastern Arizona Science Initiative (EASI) honored fifth-grade teacher from Thatcher Elementary School, Allie Wren, and Duncan High School instructor, Rebecca Bell, as STEM Educators of the Year. The EASI STEM Educator of the Year Award is an annual recognition of two outstanding educators, one representing pre-kindergarten through sixth grade and another representing seventh through 14th (college level), who are actively involved in providing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in the Eastern Arizona region.

Wren shares the field of science with her class in an effort to increase their interests during this important time in their academic career. Jeff Tysoe, Mine Engineer at Freeport-McMoRan, nominated Mrs. Wren for the title.

“Allie has taken it upon herself to expose her students, who happen to live in a mining community, to the diverse world of mining technology and earth science,” Tysoe said. “She has utilized tools such as ‘Dig into Mining’ as well as bringing in guest lecturers from industry to conduct presentations and experiments for the students to see firsthand how technical and exciting a career in mining can be. Students were exposed to mineral and metal demand, blasting techniques, mining processes, and even had in-class demonstrations of SXEW processes where a copper solution was electrically charged to plate a common nail with 99.9% copper. The Thatcher Elementary School students who are lucky enough to have Allie as a science teacher have a better understanding of the science and technology required for a career in the mining industry, but maybe, more importantly, have the unique opportunity to pursue a technical career that allows them to stay in their hometown.”

Rebecca “Becky” Bell uses her small-town pride to bring out the best in her students. She teaches a variety of upper-level science curriculum including biology, chemistry, physics, and zoology. She is dedicated to providing her students with a science education and takes her classes to the annual Engineering Day and Chemistry Adventure at EAC, with her students often winning the various competitions among the high schools that attend. Bell was nominated by Tammy Gillespie, EAC biology and anatomy and physiology Professor.

“She is dedicated to providing outreach to all students in Graham and Greenlee counties,” Gillespie said. “As a founding member of the EASI, she participates in the summer science camps at EAC’s Discovery Park Campus and Tonto Creek STEM camp . . . (She) is also a member of the Graham & Greenlee – Rural Activation and Innovation Network (RAIN), an organization that promotes STEM opportunities to all community members throughout Arizona . . . and she doesn’t stop there. She also coaches the Knowledge Bowl team and is the National Honor Society advisor at Duncan High School.  Becky truly is the ultimate teacher.”

Both recipients received a framed certificate distinguishing them as 2017 STEM Educator of the Year, as well as a certificate for an educational outreach visit for two to the Mt. Graham International Observatory from the EAC Discovery Park Campus, a $25 gift certificate donated by the El Charro Restaurant in Safford, and two tickets for the Allen “Stargazer 5” theater.

EAC’s EASI appreciates the friends who donated gifts to honor the STEM Educators of the year, as well as the eastern Arizona community for their support of local educators. EASI is a non-profit group of educators and professionals whose mission is to improve STEM education and provide teachers with professional development throughout eastern Arizona.  For more information on activities or opportunities to donate or volunteer, please contact Anger at (928) 428-6260 or by email at paul.anger@eac.edu.