An Oak Canyon Junior High School teacher from Springville has been awarded one of six outstanding educator awards for the PTA's 2008 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Education. The Utah PTA Golden Apple Awards 2008 premieres on KUED-Channel 7 Wednesday, May 28, at 8 p.m. This special program features the awards ceremony, in combination with on-site footage shot at Oak Canyon Junior High.
The PTA honored Eli (Doug) Paneé, who was selected from numerous nominees from nearly every school in Utah. Paneé's Principal, David Smith, said Paneé demands excellence from himself and those around him. "Doug's teaching methods and style are demanding yet student friendly," Smith explains. "He is constantly reinventing himself to be a better teacher and mentor.
Oak Canyon Junior High PTSA President Jackie Pettis said Paneé "brings to life the world of science, making learning an exciting adventure for every student in his class." She said each of her three children have benefited from having had Paneé as a teacher. "I have watched as they got excited about what others might think is a boring subject. They've moaned about dissecting owl pellets, but then came home that day and couldn't stop talking about it."
Paneé motivates students through his Science Demo Team (SDT), where 50 students are selected to go around the state making science presentations for elementary and junior high schools, science fairs, businesses, symposiums, etc. He motivates students by requiring that they have no tardies or zeroes on assignments in order to participate in fun projects such as the SDT.
Students who want to be on the SDT must have teacher evaluations, self evaluations and a GPA of 3.6. This year, Paneé received 130 applications for the 50 spots.
Despite his busy schedule with SDT, Paneé makes an effort to attend his students' extracurricular activities such as football, track, concerts and plays. While attending a track meet during extremely cold weather, he took hot chocolate and cider for the students - including those from the opposing school.
Paneé values parents as an important part of every student's educational team. He created a web site where all of the homework is listed and worksheets and class information is available there to download. Parents are very involved with the SDT activities, helping behind the scenes, hauling equipment and chaperoning.
Students receive regular feedback on their progress through postcards Paneé sends to their homes, complimenting them on their good work in class. In an effort to bring science to life, Paneé seeks community involvement. The Utah Raptors regularly bring in their "Birds of Prey" demonstration, which Paneé incorporates into his future lessons by teaching students about owls and then having them dissect owl pellets to see firsthand what makes them birds of prey.
His nominators say Paneé utilizes firsthand knowledge to teach his students. "He brings the outside world into the classroom by sharing personal stories of volcanoes in Hawaii, or earthquake stories after traveling to San Francisco to see the damaging effects of the quake."
Paneé says the burden of motivation is on him, and not the student. "I know that tucked away somewhere in each student is that need to explore, feel, and taste life." He says he is constantly searching for creative ways to teach science to students who may have once found science dull and boring. "When students get excited about science, they tell their parents, who, in turn, become part of their child's classes indirectly, which then makes them a part of my class, as well," he said.
The Golden Apple Awards are funded in part by the Emma Eccles Jones Foundation, Utah Education Network, Educators Mutual Insurance Association, and the Utah Education Association.
The Utah PTA Golden Apple Awards 2008 premieres on KUED-Channel 7 Wednesday, May 28, at 8 p.m., repeating Sunday, June 1, at 6 p.m. Video clips and interviews with each award recipient can be seen on the KUED web site: http://www.kued.org/goldenapples
Golden Apple Award Recipient Eli (Doug) Paneé
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