• Teacher: Kirstin Rhoads
  • Subject: Chemistry, Physics, Engineering
  • School: Basehor-Linwood High School
  • Awarded: January 2014

Teacher Bio - Kirstin Rhoads is the recipient of the Educating Excellence Award for January 2014. Rhoads, who teaches Chemistry, Physics and Engineering at Basehor-Linwood High School in Basehor, Kansas, was nominated by colleagues Molly Bovos and Christopher Claflin.

According to her colleagues, Rhoads creates excitement for STEM learning opportunities and encourages her students to challenge themselves through creative problem solving. Whether she's teaching Project Lead the Way, coaching Science Olympiad or helping students design a museum exhibit for Burns and McDonnell's Battle of the Brains, her students flourish under her interactive, open-ended teaching style.

"Students become aware of her advanced training in the sciences," says Claflin. "In a world where most high school students are taught by teachers who have a B.S. in Science Education, her students get to study with a scholar who has all but finished her PhD in Chemistry."

In addition to her regular teaching responsibilities, Rhoads participates in various education-related committees and acts as a mentor for new teachers at her school. "I have seen first-hand how she goes above and beyond in every way possible," explains Bovos. "Kristen is on several committees at the high school and district level, and is constantly an advocate for students and staff. Kirsten is my mentor, and I would not be surviving the first year (teaching) without her positivity and encouragement. "

While Rhoads is recognized for creating a positive environment in the classroom, she also encourages her students to explore career options in STEM fields. Says Claflin: "Mrs. Rhoads works with students to find their best opportunities to continue their studies after graduation from high school."

"Kristin shares her passion for science and engineering every day," adds Brovos. "The students feed off her excitement and it continues even they have been in her class. I see students come back to visit her, even after they have graduated."