Year Honored: 1995
At the time of the Award, Penny Vahsen was:Teacher
Magothy River Middle School
Penny Vahsen, who teaches science to seventh-graders at Magothy River Middle School in Arnold, makes it a point to "turn kids around" in science. Mrs. Vahsen believes that her hands-on approach has gone a long way toward peaking the interest and enthusiasm for a "technical subject most children dislike in middle school." In an effort to share her interest in environmental issues with her students, Mrs. Vahsen developed a unit called "Chesapeake Bay - Research in our own Backyard." Living on a peninsula bounded by two rivers that lead to the Bay, students in the program are exposed to such activities as water testing, forest buffering, fish counts, map reading and analysis. Beyond teaching students content matter, Mrs. Vahsen has designed this course to place an equal emphasis on helping students "appreciate their part in the future of the Bay."