BLANCHESTER — A local educator was named one the state’s Teachers of the Year by the Ohio Department of Education.
Andrea Harpen, a chemistry and physics teacher at Blanchester High School, was named the Region 10 Teacher of the Year by the Ohio Department of Education.
“It’s an incredible honor to both love a job and honored in this way,” said Harpen. “I love being a teacher and I’m in a strong community that’s committed to helping their kids.”
Harpen told the News Journal her message is, “We have to work hard to individualize education” and launch kids into their pathways as adults. She’s especially dedicatedto teaching her students about the latest in tech science, biology, and agriculture.
According to her biography on the ODE’s website, before her 15 years of teaching, she was as a chemical engineer managing the processing and packing of soybean oil for Procter & Gamble’s Ivorydale food plant.
“Andrea has incorporated her industry experience into her teaching, distinguishing herself as a leader in STEM education by doing summer research of breakout topics in science. After immersing herself in nanoscience research for two summers at Purdue University, Andrea earned the distinction of Master Teacher in Nanoscience Education from the university. She also did an internship in the Nuclear Energy Department at Argonne National Labs, writing materials in nuclear energy education that are used for international training seminars,” the bio states.
She won the 2010 Governor’s Award for Excellence in STEM Education and was a 2011-2015 Master Teacher Trainer in Biofuels and Bioproducts for the Ohio Bio-Products Innovation Center at The Ohio State University. She presented “Chemistry in a Biobased Economy,” a green-chemistry lesson, at the 2013 Science Educators Conference of Ohio. She was the lead teacher-presenter for a five-state, $5 million U.S. Department of Agriculture Bioenergy & Bioproduct grant presentation in Washington D.C.
The biography goes on to states, “Her emphasis on teaching about cutting-edge research has helped her economically disadvantaged students win almost $60,000 in cash and scholarship awards over the past 10 years. Her work to build relationships between academia and industry has resulted in more than $30,000 in sponsorships and field trips awarded to her students.”
She has presented at the Science Educators Conference of Ohio, Ohio State Biofuels and Bioproducts Workshop, National Science Teachers Association-funded Science Teacher’s Nanoscience Workshop, National STEM Teachers Workshop and National Chemical Education Conference.
Blanchester Superintendent Dean Lynch told the News Journal that Harpen’s classroom and outside area utilized to demonstrate experiments are just a few steps from his office window.
“Being at such close proximity to her classroom, I have had the pleasure to observe her style of teaching through the years which exhibits much laughing and learning,” said Lynch. “It’s good to know the positive attitude Mrs. Harpen exhibits brings to work each and every day along with the time she spends preparing to create a fun filled culture and climate for our students is being recognized by the State Board of Education.”
Lynch added Blanchester is fortunate to have Harpen and that the “all-star educator” is deserving of it.
Last year’s Region 10 Teacher of the Year was Nancy Reeves of East Clinton Middle School. According to the ODE’s website, two Clinton County teachers were named overall Ohio Teacher of the Year — Wilmington High School’s Doug Cooper in 2001 and Joanne Guay of New Vienna Elementary in 1999.
School administrators, fellow educators, parents, students and community members nominated teachers for the district awards. A State Board of Education member representing each district or volunteer staff from area Educational Service Centers worked with local committees of educators, and often parents and business leaders, to select the district’s awardee.
An Ohio panel of education and community stakeholders will interview state finalists from the State Board district awardees to select the Ohio Teacher of the Year. The state superintendent will announce the statewide honoree this fall.
The Ohio Teacher of the Year will represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year selection in spring 2020, sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574