Sunday, September 27, 2009

Middle school teacher receives award

Middle school teacher receives award
by JM Martin
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 Granite Park Junior High School’s Mark Towner was one of 185 science teachers across the country to be named Science Teacher Fellow the National Science Teacher Association.
Granite Park Junior High School’s Mark Towner was one of 185 science teachers across the country to be named Science Teacher Fellow the National Science Teacher Association.

A science teacher working in a Title I school in South Salt Lake City has been chosen to receive a national award.

Mark E. Towner, a biology teacher at Granite Park Junior High School, was one of 185 science teachers selected nationwide to be a Science Teacher Fellow by the National Science Teacher Association for the 2009-2010 school year. This year will be Towner’s second teaching at the school.

“I love working with kids [and] I love science,” Towner said.

Before becoming a teacher, Towner was a research biologist. He was also founder and CEO of his own company before retiring from the private sector in 2003.

Towner said he decided to pursue teaching because he “wanted to give back to the community.” He also wanted to help fill the ongoing shortage of math and science teachers in the public schools.

Currently, Towner is working as a biology teacher while pursuing a master’s degree in education. Towner is pursuing higher education while working as part of the Alternative Route to Teacher Licensure Program through the state of Utah, a program designed to attract qualified individuals to teach in their field of expertise while completing licensure requirements.

Towner said he learned about the opportunity for the NSTA Science Fellow award through Todd Campbell, Ph.D., an assistant science professor teaching one of the classes Towner’s taking at Utah State University.

According to the website, the NSTA was “founded in 1944 and headquartered in Arlington, Va. [It] is the largest organization in the world committed to promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all. NSTA's current membership of 60,000 includes science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, business and industry representatives and others involved in and committed to science education.”

Benefits of the award include the opportunity to participate in professional development, mentoring programs, an invitation to the NSTA national conference and access to online pedagogy programs to help develop classroom skills and science lesson plans.

Towner said he hopes that his time as an NSTA Science Teacher fellow will provide him the opportunity to better serve the students of Granite Park Jr., many of whom are economically disadvantaged.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Utah Science Teacher Mark E. Towner Selected For Fellowship Program in Prestigious NSTA New Science Teacher Academy

Kate Meyer, NSTA
(703) 312-9211

SALT LAKE CITY — September 21, 2009 — The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the largest professional organization in the world promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning, in partnership with the Amgen Foundation; Agilent Technologies Foundation; Astellas Pharma US, Inc. (“Astellas”); and Bayer Corporation, today announced that Mark Towner, a science teacher at Granite Park Middle School in Salt Lake City, Utah, was chosen from hundreds of applications nationwide to participate as an Amgen-NSTA Fellow in the 2009 NSTA New Science Teacher Academy. The only teacher selected from Utah, Towner will participate with 184 other science teachers from across the country in a year-long professional development program designed to help promote quality science teaching, enhance teacher confidence and classroom excellence and improve teacher content knowledge.

“At NSTA, we believe it is important to help educators develop their skills as teachers so that they can not only bolster student achievement, but better inspire passion for science in their students,” said Dr. Francis Eberle, executive director, NSTA. “We congratulate this year’s group of Fellows and are grateful for their commitment to science education and to their students.”

The 2009 Fellows were selected on the basis of several criteria, including showing evidence of a solid science background and displaying a strong interest in growing as a professional science educator. Each Fellow will receive a comprehensive NSTA membership package, online mentoring with trained mentors who teach in the same discipline, and the opportunity to participate in a variety of web-based professional development activities, including web seminars. In addition, each Fellow will receive financial support to attend and participate in NSTA’s 2010 National Conference on Science Education in Philadelphia.

Agilent Technologies Foundation and Bayer Corporation will each fund the participation of 10 science teachers as Agilent Foundation-NSTA Fellows and Bayer-NSTA Fellows, respectively. Astellas will support 15 science teachers from the Chicago area as Astellas-NSTA Fellows. The remaining 150 science teachers will be supported by the Amgen Foundation and named Amgen-NSTA Fellows.

Launched during the spring of 2007, the NSTA New Science Teacher Academy, co-founded by the Amgen Foundation, was established to help reduce the high attrition rate in the science teaching profession by providing professional development and mentoring support to early-career science teachers.

For a list of the 2009 Fellows or to learn more about the NSTA New Science Teacher Academy, please visit