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Athena Pinnacle Award Profiles

Educator Nominees

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Belle Bohn

Olive Peirce Middle School

Belle Bohn teaches seventh-grade pre-algebra to students who have not had a great deal of success in math. Her students typically begin the school year between one and five years behind grade-level standards. By the end of the year, her students have mastered pre-algebra and are ready to rise to the challenge of algebra. Bohn is the first teacher to arrive on campus and one of the last to leave. She spends break time, lunchtime and before and after school working with students to fill in their mathematical gaps.

Her philosophy is that for students to learn and understand mathematics, they must be able to make connections to real life. To accomplish this, Bohn makes sure that every topic she teaches reaches every type of learner in her classroom. Her lessons are carefully crafted to include manipulatives that enable the students to move their thinking to an abstract level, while ensuring the students see the real-life connections.

Rebecca Haddock

High Tech High

Rebecca Haddock is director of outreach/vice principal of student affairs at High Tech High. The dual title reflects the complementary roles that Haddock plays in connecting High Tech High students to opportunities, contacts and resources in San Diego.

Haddock established the academic internship program at High Tech High in 2001, which gives students the opportunity to work with an individual mentor and complete a relevant project. Haddock also works closely with faculty to provide guest speakers, company tours, special projects and industry resources for their classes.

Haddock takes a generational marketing approach to sparking young women's interests in math and science. She shows technology as "hip, young, fun, creative and collaborative." Through her weekly speaker series on campus called Power Lunch, Haddock introduces students to professionals who use technology, math and science in fashion design, broadcast journalism, finance, politics, marketing, education and anthropology. She also invites young engineers, scientists, computer programmers and marine biologists to motivate students through classes or tours.

Judy Heitz

Chula Vista High School

Judy Heitz provides dynamic leadership within both the scientific and educational communities. She has written several major grants that provide funding for a new career pathway in biotechnology at Chula Vista High School, leading to advanced credit at local community colleges and exceptional preparation for students enrolling in four-year colleges and universities. President of San Diego Science Educators Association, Heitz was instrumental in organizing the 2002 National Science Teachers' Association Conference in San Diego.

Heitz stays current with advances in biotechnology through workshops, lectures and summer studies with local biotechnology companies and universities. With decades of experience in biotechnology and her recent career change into education, Heitz already has more content and practical training in biotechnology than most teachers in her field.

Heitz's formula for inspiring young women is simple -- show students why you love science and show them how they can practically apply science and math in biotech careers. Her course sequence combines content instruction, lab skills and internships with biotech companies through a school-within-a-school format.

Ginger Hovenic, Ed.D.

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Foundation & Business Roundtable for Education

Ginger Hovenic, Ed.D. is an educator with tremendous passion and unbounded vision. Presently Hovenic serves as the President/CEO for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Foundation and heads the Business Roundtable for Education. Hovenic has been a strong proponent of education for over 30 years and has had an impact in the transformation and education of young women in San Diego County. She oversees development of learning opportunities and resources for the next generation of women with careers in the fields of math and science. She also sets a high bar for education; then helps learners achieve educational success.

Hovenic was the first woman to head a boarding school in London that focused on math and science as the core to accelerate student learning, and led her staff in uncharted territories. She was also the first woman to serve as an educational leader in the Department of State for the American and International Schools, bringing technology as a tool to communicate within and between schools throughout the world in the late 1980s. Her strong belief in the power of technology to enhance the learning environment guided the vision beyond the classroom walls.

Sally Ride, Ph.D.

Imaginary Lines

Sally K. Ride, Ph.D., continues to be a significant role model for young women. In 2001, Ride, the first American woman in space, founded Imaginary Lines to increase the number of girls who are technically literate and who have the foundation they need to pursue science, math or engineering careers. The company's mission is to support and sustain girls' natural interests in science and technology, and to catalyze a change in cultural perceptions of girls and women in these endeavors. Ride creates communities and activities, and develops programs and products for upper elementary and middle school girls, their parents, their teachers and their future employers.

Ride's first initiative is the Sally Ride Science Club, which supports girls in their exploration of the universe of science and technology. Ride also organizes community Science Festivals around the country and collaborates with Space Camp, science centers, and museums to develop exciting activities for girls and their parents.

Cindy Wilcken

Logan Elementary School

Cindy Wilcken has made an outstanding contribution to the education of children at Logan Elementary in the areas of mathematics, reading and grammar. She has the ability to relate to each individual student's challenges and interests. She also demonstrates an effective ability to promote self-esteem in her students.

Wilcken uses innovative teaching and communication skills to teach mathematics to her students via unique exercises, self tests and tools for parental involvement. The students in the program showed the following improvements in 2001 vs. 2000: academics (+33 percent), interpersonal functioning (+46 percent), delinquent behavior (-33 percent), family functioning (+56 percent), school dropout (-44 percent) and violence (-31 percent).

Wilcken also serves as the mentoring coordinator for the Walden Family Services' One-to-One Mentoring program, which matches elementary school children at risk for gang-related activity, teen pregnancies and drug use with mentors from the community. She has been instrumental in the growth of the One-to-One Mentoring program, which has grown 100 percent over the last five years.

Rosalie Wisniew

St. Didacus Parish School

Rosalie Wisniew is an excellent science teacher who tries innovative approaches in the teaching of the science curriculum. She teaches seventh- and eighth-grade science and also makes herself available to the kindergarten through sixth-grade teachers to help them with their science instruction. If there is a workshop available, Wisniew attends it. If there is a concept she's not familiar with, she calls someone in her vast network of experts. If there's a new technique Wisniew is aware of, she puts it into practice.

Wisniew stresses the importance of the scientific method, a sense of discovery and the importance of research in the school's science program. A recent example of an innovative approach to generating interest in math and science for young women involved the mix of science and table decorations for the school's open house. The students were studying flowering plants and Wisniew had them make paper flowers, with all their important parts scientifically labeled, fashioning them into bouquets, which were then displayed on the table.

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