Science Teacher of the Year is in Chatfield

October 22, 2018 05:46 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- The Minnesota Science Teachers Association has chosen a local woman as Science Teacher of the Year.

Nora Gathje has been teaching science at Chatfield High School for more than a decade.


“When you teach at a small school, when you teach science, there are a lot of things you have to do in a day. Instead of teaching one subject multiple times a day, I teach three subjects for 90 minutes multiple times a day,” she said.

Her friend and former colleague, Chuck Wheeler Handlon, nominated her.

“I’ve known Nora for a long time; I’ve known how hard she works, how much she has a passion for learning and science with her students,” he said.

“Chuck told me after he had nominated me that he thought what I was doing here in Chatfield was excellent work and so he wanted to highlight what we do here in some of the smaller schools,”Gathje said.

She and Handlon taught together in Rochester, but when she took the job in Chatfield, she knew she’d be expected to teach more branches of science, so she added a chemistry license.

“She didn’t just get the licensure and start teaching out of the book," Handlon said. "She’s been willing to learn more chemistry herself, she’s been willing to develop lab activities, and she really encourages her students to do higher levels of thinking."

Gathje’s goal is to get kids excited about science.

“Instead of talking about Newton’s laws of motions, they’ll actually in the lab drive pickup trucks and have a load in the back, and then they’ll do different maneuvers with the truck, and they have to stop fast, or they have to do a right-hand turn, and they see where the load ends up in the back of the pickup truck," she said. "So I want them to experience that and then apply that to what’s going to happen in real life when they’re really driving."

Because preparing them for the real world, and the future, is what’s most important.

“All of the careers that don’t exist yet; I think our job as science teachers is to prepare them for things we don’t know they are going to have to do in 10 years, 20 years,” she said.


Alice Keefe

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