Sevier County Teacher Wins Marian Oates Teacher Enrichment Award

KNOXVILLE – Bill Taylor, a middle school teacher employed by Sevier County Schools, is the 2009 recipient of the Marian E. Oates Teacher Enrichment Award from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The award provides a fellowship for professional development to the teacher selected. A gift from UT Knoxville alumna Marian Oates to the College of Arts and Sciences established the award, which is in its second year.

“Now and in the future, the study and practice of environmental sciences is going to become more and more important,” said Oates. “Through this award I hope to enable middle school teachers to enrich their knowledge, which will, in turn, equip them to boost their students’ interest in taking care of the natural world.”

Each spring, school systems in a nine-county area of East Tennessee are invited to nominate a middle school science teacher for the Marian Oates Teacher Enrichment Award. Preference is given to teacher nominees who teach earth and environmental sciences and conservation because Oates has championed stewardship and conservation of natural resources throughout her life. Oates lives on Bluff Mountain in Sevier County.

Taylor teaches middle school at the Eugene Huskey Environmental Center (EHEC) in Sevierville, where he has the unique assignment of teaching environmental science, including stream ecology, environmental stewardship and conservation of natural resources to every sixth-grade class in Sevier County. The classes visit EHEC for a two day, overnight stay during which they immerse themselves in learning about the environment.

Taylor will enrich his instruction next year following a summer study at UT Knoxville with Jennifer Schweitzer, an assistant professor in UT’s department of ecology and evolutionary biology who specializes in ecosystem ecology. Through their collaboration, Schweitzer and Taylor are developing several environmental research and education projects that will engage the sixth graders in Sevier County Schools throughout the 2009-10 school year and for years to come.

Data collection is a new standard in the Tennessee sixth-grade curriculum. With Schweitzer’s help, Taylor will develop different ecology projects in which the students will be collecting data. As the students conduct their own research and apply the scientific method, they will learn about data collection and gain a better understanding of how scientific research can affect their lives and the lives of others in the future. Schweitzer says the students’ data collection has potential to inform the research in her own lab on campus.

Taylor has been a teacher in Sevier County for eight years. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at UT Knoxville and his educational specialist degree at Lincoln Memorial University. He is married and has a daughter who is a nurse at UT Medical Center and a son who recently received his master’s degree in marine biology from the University of Guam.

C O N T A C T :

Jay Mayfield, UT Knoxville media relations (865-974-9409, jay.mayfield@tennessee.edu)

Lynn Champion, director of outreach and communications, College of Arts and Sciences (865-974-5332, champion@utk.edu)

Bill Taylor, award recipient (865-384-8961, bt1478963@aol.com)