RMS-AAPG Teacher of the Year

About the Award

The RMS-AAPG each year chooses a K-12 teacher of earth and resource science to represent the section in a competition held by the American Association of Geologists where the winner of the national Excellence in Teaching Award personally receives $3,000 and the winner's school receives $3,000. In addition, the winner gets an expense-paid trip to the annual AAPG meeting to receive the award.

Previous Winners


Debbie Morgan is currently teaching at South Sevier High School in Monroe, Utah, and has taught high school and middle school earth science for more than 14 years. She is enthusiastic and passionate about teaching geology earth science to her students in a classroom that allows them to "get their hands dirty and experience science." Debbie strongly believes that if "students aren't able to "do" something with the content, they will never remember, nor care about it". "Doing" in Debbie's classroom means building a model of an oil reservoir and then "exploring" for oil with a wooden skewer, presenting learnings in a classroom "NERD" conference, and then taking a field trip to a local mining operation. "Doing" can also mean a sing-along naming the Periods of the Geologic Time scale to Debbie playing the ukulele. Debbie won the TOTY award for UGA in 2017, before being selected to receive the RMS-AAPG TOTY in 2018 and ultimately went on to win the National AAPG TOTY award, which will be presented at AAPG ACE in Salt Lake City. In addition to her other awards, Debbie has received $2,000 from the RMS-AAPG in appreciation to her dedication and hard work in education. She used these funds to take several of her students on a spring break geology trip.


Julie Mitchell, currently teaching at Erie High School in Erie, Colorado, has taught high school earth science for more than 20 years. She is passionate about teaching geology and environmental science to her students in a balanced classroom that allows them to “discover and do science, not just take notes.” Julie has been a strong leader and champion for the promotion of geology and earth science education. She has led numerous district level teams in reviewing curriculum, adopting textbooks, and educating other science teachers and administrators about the importance of geology in the high school curriculum. Julie won the TOTY award for RMAG before being selected to receive the RMS-AAPG TOTY, and ultimately went on to win the National AAPG TOTY award that was presented this April at the ACE Meeting in Houston. In addition to her other awards, Julie received $2000 from the RMS-AAPG in appreciation to her dedication and hard work in education.


Jill Bushaw has been teaching at Century High School in Bismarck, North Dakota for 21 years. In each of those years, she has taught a class that spends 18 weeks on learning about natural resources. North Dakota is rich in natural resources so this is a class that can be applied to the real world of her students which allows them to understand the potential of North Dakota's resources and the jobs they could pursue locally in the science realm. They study fossil fuels, coal and petroleum and are introduced to alternative energy sources. Her units revolve around "inquiry labs" with real world issues that the students can research and brainstorm and present ideas to the class. Students in her class are also guided to appreciate the multiple perspectives of stakeholders and are led into discussions on how to balance the needs of all. By engaging her classes in meaningful learning experiences, Jill's students develop an informed and vested interest in North Dakota's natural resources. In appreciation of her 21 years of teaching excellence, the Rocky Mountain Section of AAPG is pleased to recognize Jill Bushaw as the 2016 Teacher of the Year.


Jacqueline D. Bath (Thunder Ridge High School, Highlands Ranch, CO) is the 2014 Teacher of the Year. She is a ninth grade earth environmental science and a 10th-12th grade geology instructor at Thunder Ridge High School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Having a geology background with experience in the oil and gas industry, Mrs. Bath has made her teaching of natural resources relevant through innovative teaching techniques combined with actual knowledge of what the resources are, what they are used for and how they are exploited. By bringing in professionals from industry, for example to run "The Oil Game" simulation, she allows interaction between students and people who actually make a living in the natural resource arena. After being selected for this award, Mrs. Bath moved on to be a nominee for the AAPG national Teacher of the Year Award which she won and was awarded at the All-Convention luncheon at this year’s AAPG Annual Convention.

President Sue Cluff presents Teacher of Year Award to Jackie Bath.


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