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The Voice of the Black Community

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Teacher is a star in the classroom
Waddell High instructor earns national praise
 
Published Thursday, April 1, 2010 9:00 am
by Herbert L. White

CHARLOTTE-MECKLENBURG SCHOOLS
Waddell High School biology teacher Tamica Stubbs (left) has earned national and state awards and teaching fellowships for her innovative approach to reaching students.

Tamica Stubbs is an advocate of better living through science.


The Waddell High School biology teacher has earned national accolades for her commitment, including the Shell Science Teaching Award for her impact on students and the community. She was honored at the National Science Teachers Association’s annual conference in her hometown of Philadelphia.


“I was very surprised,” she said. “It’s very competitive.”


Stubbs’ competitive streak makes her a classroom standout, too. Although many of her students come from low-income families, they excel academically because of Stubbs’ emphasis on excellence.


“I feel that you should go in with a passion if you implement it the way you want students to receive it,” she said. “It’s been a challenge, but I love a challenge and I love the competitive edge, which is why I teach in the first place.”


Stubbs, who has been at Waddell for eight years, is active in building the ranks of minorities in STEM – science, technology engineering and math. She has earned millions of dollars in grants and scholarships to launch a research program and laboratory to teach nanoscience and biotechnology courses that are typically taught at colleges.


“Ms. Stubbs has a unique way of teaching that allows students to be involved in hands-on learning activities that stimulate a personal desire to learn and explore,” said Waddell graduate Jennifer Telschow, a freshman at Stanford University who plans to major in biology or technology. “She stops at nothing to get a student to better understand the content.”


Stubbs’ success  can be traced to her identification with students. Growing up in a low-income neighborhood in Philadelphia, she said education wasn’t always embraced as a way to improve lives. That’s where inspiration – usually from adults – and determination make a difference.


“I was a product of a similar community and I know what it’s like to have someone put their hand out to me and say there’s a better way,” she said.


Said Cindy Moss, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ STEM education director:
"Tamica Stubbs is showing the community, the state and the country the power of an enthusiastic and knowledgeable teacher." 


“Students are very receptive to new things and they want to learn different things,” Stubbs said. “That might be the most exciting part. I’ve had a lot of students change their angle in terms of professional development, especially as it relates to the sciences and America’s place in the world.”


Stubbs has won several major awards for innovation, including the Biotechnology Institute’s Teacher of Excellence in Biotechnology Award (second place) and the N.C. Biotechnology Institute’s Teacher of Excellence in Biotechnology Award (first lace). She also earned a fellowship from the Society for Science and the Public and a five-year, $175,000 grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund award. 


“In many ways, the teachers who receive the Shell Science Teaching Award are like the scientists employed by Shell Oil Company,” said Frazier Wilson, vice president of the Shell Oil Company Foundation. “Our scientists work towards overcoming the energy challenge and building a bridge to a sustainable future; a teacher like Tamica Stubbs lays the foundation for building a new generation of problem solvers every year.”


“Tamica sets the bar of success high,” Waddell Principal Lisa Bowen said. “She has a way of developing relationships with students that motivates them to do well.” 

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