2003 Outstanding High School Chemistry Teacher Award
Perseverance with a smile!
The miracle, or the power, that elevates the few is to be found in their industry, application, and perseverance under the prompting of a brave, determined spirit. -Mark Twain
This quote accurately reflects the tenacious spirit of this year’s Outstanding High School Chemistry Teacher Award recipient, Judie Flint Baumwirt. As I chat with her in her classroom at the CSUN Math, Science and Technology Magnet School at Granada Hills High School about her experiences teaching chemistry, I can’t help but notice that she talks about all of them with a constant smile!
With a background in business, art, and a great love of chemistry, Judie has been able to mix these diverse subjects together to paint a more dynamic picture of chemistry in the world outside of the classroom. She educates and inspires her general and honors level students to build a strong appreciation and interest in chemistry through a variety of activities, research projects and laboratory experiences. As an example of last year’s projects, a 5-foot reproduction painting of Van Gogh’s Starry Night hangs proudly next to the door of her classroom. In support of last year’s ACS theme, “Chemistry and Art,” students worked collaboratively to explore the history of paints and the field of restoration chemistry, to research the associated toxicity of different pigments and then finally create egg tempera paints in the laboratory, to ultimately create their own “masterpiece.”
Outside the classroom, Judie has undertaken the charge to start a High School Chemistry Teacher Support Group (http://www.csun.edu/chemteach/) which is based out of neighboring CSUN. What began as a local teacher-led professional staff development group that included high school, junior college and university instructors, quickly gained momentum with the addition of a listserv which is directed specifically at those who teach regular and honors level chemistry students, the majority of the high school student base. Today the listserv, (hschem-L), has continuously increasing membership in excess of 500 national and international members. Enrollment is easily accessed through the resource website which also provides a collection of teaching materials, labs and information specific to high school chemistry provided by its members for its members. With a continuing desire to provide access to collaboration amongst fellow chemistry educators in the LA area, Judie is also exploring the possibility of reactivating the local (Southern California) section of the California Association of Chemistry Teachers (CACT). With her enthusiasm and determined spirit, Judie Flint Baumwirt brings much to the high school classroom and contributes greatly to the chemistry education community.
– Paul Shin, Ph.D.
Chair, Educational Affairs Committee
Setting a High Standard – Judith Baumwirt
Judie Baumwirt of Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) is the recipient of the 2008 American Chemical Society Division of Chemical Education Western Region Award for Excellence in High School Teaching. After a brief hiatus, this award has been reinstated with the selection of an outstanding teacher who represents the finest in chemical educators in this region. She will receive a $1,000 check from the ACS Division of Chemical Education and a Salute to Excellence plaque at the Education Awards Luncheon on Saturday, September 27 at the ACS Western Regional Meeting in Las Vegas (membership.acs.org/W/wrm2008).
According to the Selection Committee, “She truly blew us away with her accomplishments.” As the founder of both the Chemistry Teacher Support (CTS) Group (see http://www.hschem.org) and HSChem listserv (groups.google.com/group/HSChem), Judie is a leader in support for fellow chemical educators. Both internet resources serve not only the local San Fernando region, but have grown so popular that there are participants from all over the world! The wealth of resources she provides is remarkable and presented selflessly. According to the Director of Accountability and Technology at GHCHS, Pat Givant, “Ms. Baumwirt is a highly qualified professional and innovator in the field of chemistry and chemical education.”
All of Judie’s hard work and efforts are passionately dedicated to the benefit of her students. Again, according to Ms. Givant, “She challenges students to think critically about what they are learning and emphasizes the importance of clear communication skills and scientific writing” because “It is clear by Judie’s actions that she fully supports science for all students.” A former student of Judie’s reinforces this by saying, “that she (Judie) can develop personal relationships with each and every one of her students and make them feel important and worth her attention is even more astounding” and finally, “Her humility and openness to learn from her students, instead of lording her position over her students, has made her one of my favorite teachers, if not my favorite.”
As a recent recipient of the Outstanding High School Chemistry Teacher by this ACS Section (SCALACS) and by the Amgen Foundation, Judie is well on her way to national recognition. In my nomination letter as Chair of the Educational Affairs Committee for SCALACS, I state that, “In my over two-dozen years involvement in chemical education, Judie is the most selfless, hard working and inspirational high school chemistry teacher I have ever had the pleasure to know.” And so Judie Baumwirt truly does set a high standard for this award.
– Paul Shin
Educational Affairs Chair