Central science teacher earns Teacher of the Year

Central High School science teacher Meredith Bauserman gives Samuel Perez, 17, some extra help during school on Thursday. Bauserman was recently named Shenandoah County's Teacher of the Year. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK – A Central High School teacher’s risk-taking has earned her the title of Shenandoah County Public Schools Teacher of the Year.

Meredith Bauserman, a chemistry, ecology and environmental science teacher, said she was shocked to learn she had won.

“I was blown away,” she said. “There are so many good teachers in this division and I’m just honored.”

After 12 years of teaching in the classroom she was taught in when she was a student at Central, she said she was surprised to receive the honor and has received congratulations from students and colleagues.

Bauserman thanks Principal Melissa Hensley for allowing her to take instructional risks to better teach her students.

“It was basically right after she came here we had our conversations, our goals meeting and I was expressing to her that I was just kind of getting bored with the way I was teaching Chemistry I,” Bauserman.

Bauserman thought she was doing a great job teaching to her middle tier of students, but her upper tier was getting bored because they grasped the material quickly, and her lower tier students suffered because they weren’t getting enough one-on-one support. This is when Hensley suggested “flipping the classroom.”

In the traditional classroom instruction model, students receive a lecture from the teacher during class and take home practice problems as homework. Bauserman said that by flipping the classroom, the practice is done in class and students watch recorded lectures at home.

She said with this new method of instruction she can “really support every student and what they need. And I get to build relationships with my students that I was never able to do.”

It’s a much more individualized method of teaching that she said allows students to get the help they need by asking more questions.

She said she is incorporating more projects and labs into the classroom now, but hopes to include even more in future classes.

“It’s still an evolving process,” she said. “And I think that’s one of the reasons why I was selected is because I want to take those risks and I want to change it to make it better for all my students.”

Since she began teaching, Bauserman said she has changed her teaching in other ways as well. For example, her classes are more inquiry-based now.

“I want my students to understand that it’s OK to fail and I want them to learn from those failures and I actually want them to tell me about their failures,” she said.

Quizzes in her class aren’t graded for points toward their final grade. She said now quizzes are just a checkpoint – the students grade themselves and explain to her why they were wrong and how they better understand the material after review.

“They are telling me instead of me telling them,” she said. “I want them to take ownership of their learning.”

Another component of the flipped classroom is the focus on mastery, she said, meaning that students must master a unit before moving on to the next unit.

“I’m still in this process of trying to make my classes as student-centered as possible, so I’d like to incorporate more of their interests,” she said. “To personalize their learning.”

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com