Eastern Arizona Science Initiative awards 2018 STEM Educators of the Year

Contributed Photo: From Left, Paul Anger, EAC Disocvery Park Campus director, stands with the STEM Educators of the Year, Christian Harper and Chris Cook.

Contributed Article

THATCHER – The Eastern Arizona Science Initiative (EASI) has selected two outstanding local educators as the 2018 STEM Educators of the Year.  The annual awards are given to only two educators, one representing pre-kindergarten through the 6th-grade level and another representing 7th grade through high school, the awards are presented to individuals who promote and improve STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education in the Eastern Arizona region.   This year’s awards are presented to Mrs. Christin Harper from Metcalf Elementary School and Mr. Chris Cook form Thatcher High School.

Mrs. Christin Harper, a 4th-grade teacher from Metcalf Elementary School in Morenci, was selected as the pre-K through 6th-grade STEM Educator of the Year for her outstanding efforts in bringing hands-on science activities to Metcalf Elementary School. Mrs. Harper demonstrates that problem-solving and logic can be applied to all school subjects. She is the sponsor of the ICATS Coding Club at Metcalf Elementary school, where the students meet monthly to apply their coding skills and create programs. Mrs. Chelsea Adams, assistant principal of Metcalf Elementary, nominated Mrs. Harper and said that “Mrs. Harper’s passion also carries over to her own classroom for ‘STEM Fridays’, where her students receive hands-on integrated STEM experiences and classroom transformations. She also often includes an expert volunteer with expertise on the subject from the community. Mrs. Harper inspires and empowers students for a bright future.” 

Mr. Chris Cook, a biology teacher at Thatcher High School, was selected as the 7th- through 12th-grade STEM Educator of the Year for his superior work in providing STEM education for the Eastern Arizona community. Mr. Cook was a professional chemist for 10 years before getting into education, where he has taught freshman and sophomore biology for the last 14 years. Mr. Cook also teaches the EAC dual-enrollment courses in college biology and CTE BioScience Lab course, as well as sharing interactive STEM activities at the annual EASI Science Camps during the summers. Mr. Cook is also the cross-country and tennis coach as well as the THS Student Council Sponsor. Nominated by Mrs. Julie Cook, a 6th-grade teacher at Thatcher Elementary School, she notes that, “Mr. Cook has devoted most of his time to teaching and helping students learn about science, technology, and mathematics. He is patient with the kids and loves helping them improve daily . . . He is always doing for others, and he is a great teacher, educator and person.”

The Eastern Arizona Science Initiative is honored to recognize and show our appreciation to Mrs. Christin Harper and Mr. Chris Cook for their outstanding efforts to share and facilitate STEM education in the Eastern Arizona community. Both of the 2018 STEM Educator of the Year recipients received a framed certificate recognizing them, as well as a certificate for an educational outreach visit for two to the Mt. Graham International Observatory from the EAC Discovery Park Campus, two movie tickets donated by the Allen Theatres – Stargazer 5 in Safford, and a $25 gift certificate donated by the El Charro Restaurant in Safford for a delicious meal. 

EASI appreciates our friends who generously donated gifts to honor our STEM Educators of the year. EASI is a non-profit group of educators and professionals whose mission is to improve STEM education and provide teacher professional development throughout Eastern Arizona. For more information on activities or how to donate or volunteer call Paul Anger at (928) 428-6260.

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