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UTA’s Matsler wins statewide award for excellence in science education

Mark Pellegrino
Karen Jo Matsler receiving the award from Mark Kelly, retired NASA astronaut and Naval aviator. Photo: courtesy of STAT.

Karen Jo Matsler, master teacher in science for UTA’s UTeach Arlington program, received the 2017 Skoog Cup College Faculty Award from the Science Teachers Association of Texas or STAT for her outstanding efforts in science education.

UTeach Arlington is a science and mathematics secondary teacher preparation that enables students to earn a rigorous bachelor’s degree in math or science along with secondary teacher certification within a four-year timeframe.

The award, presented by STAT and the Texas Tech University Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science Education Program, is given to a faculty or staff member at a Texas college or university who has demonstrated significant contributions and leadership in the development of quality science education. Matsler received the award during STAT’s annual meeting, the Conference for the Advancement in Science Teaching, held Nov. 9-11 in Houston.

“The decision to be an educator is a decision to forego extrinsic rewards for the opportunity to change lives and the world in which we live,” Matsler said. “The Skoog Award from STAT recognizes leadership and significant contributions to science education, an honor that I never dreamed I would receive. It is the result of supportive colleagues, students, family and many years of teaching. I consider myself blessed to be able to continue to contribute to education through the UTeach program at UTA and I hope I can continue to inspire teachers to also be leaders in education.”

The award is the latest confirmation of the high-quality teaching that is a hallmark of the UTeach Arlington program, UTeach co-director Greg Hale said.

“Dr. Matsler is highly deserving of this award and I’m thrilled to see her work recognized in this way,” said Hale, who also is the assistant dean of UTA’s College of Science. “Our entire UTeach Arlington team goes above and beyond for our students, and that’s the main reason the program has been such a success.”

Matsler joined UTeach Arlington in 2011 and has more than three decades of experience in education. She earned a bachelor’s of science education from Texas Tech University in 1977, a master’s of science in Secondary Education from Texas Tech in 1986 and a doctorate of education in Curriculum and Instruction from Argosy University in 2004. She taught physics and physical science at Arlington Lamar High School and two junior high schools in Lubbock between 1977 and 2002. She was K-12 science coordinator for the Lancaster and Birdville school districts from 2002-05 and worked as an adjunct professor at Argosy before coming to UTA. She also has been an adjunct at Dallas Baptist University since 2000.

She is a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers board of directors and currently serves as national director of Physics Teaching Resource Agents, an organization which seeks to improve the teaching and learning of physics and physical science for all K–12 teachers and students in the United States. She also serves on the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History board of directors for educational programs.

Among the awards Matsler has received are AAPT Inaugural Fellow in 2014, the Katherine Mays Award for Outstanding Contributions to Texas Physics Education from AAPT Texas Section in 2014, the American Physical Society Excellence in Education Award in 2011, Lamar High School Teacher of the Year in 2002, RadioShack American Teacher Award in 2000 and the Association of Texas Professional Educators Secondary Teacher of the Year Award in 1996.

Learn more about STAT here.

-   Contributing writer Greg Pederson