Two University of Wisconsin Oshkosh College of Education and Human Services professors were recently recognized for their excellence in science education.
On March 17, Eric Brunsell, ’02 MSE, associate education professor, was honored by the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers (WSST) with an Excellence in Science award. The award is given annually to people who have made outstanding contributions to the improvement of science education in Wisconsin at the elementary, secondary or college level.
Nominated by Matt Lindsay ‘00, a physics and chemistry teacher at Mosinee High school and Jason Brazzale a biology teacher at Prescott High School, Brunsell was recognized for his 20 years of science education service and more specifically for his collaborations on the Next Generation science standards projects that provided professional development for K-12 science teachers.
“It really is a humbling award. The science education community is vibrant and dedicated to improving the lives of children in Wisconsin. I am thankful to have many opportunities to be engaged with science educators at all levels throughout the state,” Brunsell said.
Outside the classroom, Brunsell is the professional development division director and a board member of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and serves as the chief operations officer for WSST. A published author, Brunsell has co-authored four books aimed at improving science education for students and strategies for educators. Brunsell has also been asked by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to co-chair the science standards writing committee. This committee reviews revises and potentially re-writes science standards used in Wisconsin.
John Whitsett, adjunct faculty member for the Department of Teaching and Learning, received the Distinguished Service to Science Education award on March 31, which was presented by NSTA. The award honors K-12 teachers, principals, professors and others in science education for their outstanding work and achievement in science education.
For more than 30 years, Whitsett has been a leader in public schools throughout Wisconsin. He began his career at La Crosse Central High School where he taught chemistry for more than 23 years. He retired in 2012 from the Fond du Lac school district after teaching physics and serving as a curriculum coordinator for more than eight years. Whitsett has also maintained an active role in both the WSST and the NSTA for more than 40 years serving as president of both organizations.
Currently, Whitsett is teaching elementary science methods and environmental science in the community Block B program at UW Oshkosh and serves on the advisory board for the Alternative Careers in Teaching (act!).
“I have a strong belief that all children deserve a good science experience. To be recognized by my colleagues is exceptional but the real joy of my career is helping prospective teachers gain the skills and understanding that will make them effective teachers,” Whitsett said.