Over her teaching career, Marshall learned the hard truth that not everyone loves science as much as she does, but that the teacher can make all the difference
Stephanie Marshall, a science teacher at Woodland High School, received the Glenn and Jane Crosby Award for Excellence for the Northwest Region for 2023 recognizing her efforts as an extraordinary high school chemistry teacher selected based on the quality of her teaching using unusually effective teaching methods as well as her dedication to the field of chemistry and chemical science.
Marshall was nominated after media coverage of her teaching style in 2021 caught the eye of Martha Dibblee, a member of the Portland chapter of the American Chemical Society (ACS). “She reached out and submitted my nomination on behalf of the Portland chapter,” said Marshall. “Additionally, I provided my philosophy toward teaching, my curriculum vitae, and letters of recommendation from colleagues.”
Over her teaching career, Marshall learned the hard truth that not everyone loves science as much as she does, but that the teacher can make all the difference. “I think teachers who make chemistry boring are doing a disservice to students; some students might hate science, but they’ll love at least one of the activities we do in my classes,” she said. “My goal is to find ways to get all students to enjoy being in my classroom so they can have that ‘light bulb moment’ and suddenly become engaged to understand more.”
For Marshall, her passion for teaching blossomed at a young age. “I’ve known I’ve wanted to be a teacher since the fourth grade when my teacher let me lead a read-along activity where I had to ask questions and pick who read next,” she said. “I was hooked! So, teaching has always been my plan.”
As for her decision to become a chemistry teacher, Marshall has always enjoyed science and appreciates the challenges a subject like chemistry presents to students. “Chemistry isn’t easy, but it makes the world a more understandable place,” she said. “If I can foster an environment where students feel comfortable learning, question what’s happening in the world around them, and have fun at the same time, then I feel I have done my job.”
Additionally, Marshall focuses on showing students that not only is failure not bad, failure’s an absolute certainty for scientists over and over again. “Science creates an amazing environment for failure; I don’t think people understand exactly how much failure is involved in being a scientist,” she said. “Too often teachers leave out how many times a scientist fails before making a scientific discovery; I make failure a big focus of the class so my students learn how to make mistakes, how to repeat their experiments, and how to overcome challenges through perseverance and grit.”
During her classes, Marshall uses a wide variety of experiments for students to experience, changing up her repertoire by developing new ones all the time. “Chemistry is a great catalyst for curiosity with so many fun experiments and demonstrations that can make students question what they just saw; people learn much more effectively when they’re curious,” she said. “Critical thinkers navigate the world better by simply being able to question their environment and form their own opinions based on evidence and hands-on experience.”
About the Glenn and Jane Crosby Northwest Region Award
The Glenn and Jane Crosby Northwest Region Award recognizes the efforts of extraordinary high school teachers with the awardee selected based on the quality of their teaching methods and their ability to challenge and inspire students while keeping up to date in advances made in the field of chemistry.
The award will be presented to Marshall at the Northwest Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society (NORM) 2023 held at Montana State University from June 28-30, 2023 and includes a cash award for Marshall in addition to $450 dedicated to school STEM activities as well as an expenses-paid trip to NORM 2023 in Bozeman, Montana.
Learn more about NORM 2023 and the Crosby Award at their website: www.norm2023.org.
Learn more about how Woodland Public Schools educates students and serves the community by visiting the dedicated news webpage at www.woodlandschools.org/news/wsd
Information provided by Woodland School District.
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