Liberty High School science teacher wins $10,000 prize

May 1, 2012

By Staff

Celebrating are (from left) Alex Soldano, legislative aide to Rep. Marcie Maxwell; Liberty High School Principal Mike DeLetis; science teacher and winner of the Amgen award Mark Buchli; Carol Pawlak, of Amgen Corporate Communications and Philanthropy; Superintendent Steve Rasmussen; and Debbie Nye, district science specialist. By Jeffry Luke Photography

In a surprise presentation April 6, Mark Buchli, Liberty High School science teacher, was awarded the Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence and a $10,000 prize.

In front of a cheering all-school assembly, Carol Pawlak, of Amgen, announced Buchli as the winner and delivered a check for $10,000 to Buchli and the school.

Pawlak let students guess why she was there, giving clues about the winning teacher saying, “This teacher has been described as dynamic, innovated, gifted, inspiring – even cosmic. This teacher’s classroom is a space where learning is held in the highest regard.”

After the final clue explaining the teacher knows hands-on science and field trips are the fastest way to a student’s mind, especially field trips to an amusement park, the students shouted out Buchli’s name.

For 23 years, Buchli has been living his dream of teaching science including Advanced Placement biology, honors physics, general chemistry and general physics, and has been at Liberty High School since 2008.

“Young people have a unique playfulness, humor and energy that I truly enjoy,” Buchli said. “Teaching is an opportunity to convey wonder and awe about exploring the universe through the lens of science. My classroom is challenging, yet fair, inquisitive, yet factual, and, most of all, a space where learning is held in highest regard. Science teaching has taught me to always be a student, experimenter and explorer.”

“Each year engaged in this profession presents not only new students, but the opportunity to teach science better,” he added. “Science teaching is the quintessential teacher. If you have a positive, growth-oriented attitude, the journey is rich beyond measure.”

Buchli is the adviser for the Physettes Club, which encourages girls interested in math, science, engineering and alternate energy.

On the Web

Learn more about the Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence at aaste.html.

Buchli earned his master’s in education from the University of Washington and holds a Bachelor of Science in geological engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, in Rapid City, S.D.

The Award for Science Teaching Excellence program was designed by biotechnology company Amgen to recognize teachers in the kindergarten through 12th-grade levels in public and private schools whose dedication to their students’ education has had a significant impact on the learning and interest of the future generation of scientists.

Each teacher receives an unrestricted $5,000 grant and their schools receive a restricted $5,000 grant, which can be used for the expansion or enhancement of a school science program, science resources or the professional development of the school’s science teachers.

The Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence is presented to recipients throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada, in locations where Amgen has a presence. One winner is chosen in Washington, where Amgen has two research facilities.

Nominations are solicited every fall with winners selected based on the following criteria: innovative science lesson plan showcasing novel teaching methods in the classroom; creativity and effectiveness of teaching methods; and the plan for the use of grant money to improve science education resources in their schools.

Since the program’s inception in 1992, Amgen has awarded more than $2.5 million to educators who have made exceptional science-teaching contributions and who have had a measurable impact on the lives of their students.

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