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Souhegan Science Teacher Earns National Marine Biology Award

Souhegan Science Teacher Earns National Marine Biology Award



Julianne Mueller-Northcott, a science teacher at Souhegan High School, has received the Outstanding Teacher Award by the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA). Sixty of Julianne’s students collaborated to contribute ideas and write a nominating letter. The award will be presented at the annual National Marine Educator Association (NMEA) conference at UNH in July.


In their nomination, students noted that Mueller-Northcott helps them to develop skills as scientists by combining innovative projects with her enthusiasm for science. She also challenges them to thoughtfully investigate current ocean issues and propose possible solutions. One example is the current Sabers Saving Sharks campaign. Mueller-Northcott’s students learned about the issues affecting the ocean by reading current articles and watching documentaries by shark activist Rob Stewart. They were so inspired to take action that they created the Sabers Saving Sharks campaign which is a collection of apparel and stickers with a saber shark logo created and designed by students created to raise awareness. Proceeds from the sale will be donated to the World Wildlife Fund.


Mueller-Northcott’s students believe that she deserves recognition because she covers a wide range of interesting and important topics in class. At the beginning of the year, they discussed ocean zonation, biodiversity and species of the intertidal zone. This learning was complimented by a field study at Odiorne Point where students collected data on biodiversity in the intertidal zone. Upon returning to school, students continued their hands-on learning by designing and maintaining both fresh and salt water classroom tanks, fostering their understanding of marine ecosystems and water chemistry.


In addition to hands-on inquiry and exuding an infectious enthusiasm for marine science, Mueller-Northcott uses a variety of strategies to help her students accomplish their own goals. Students overwhelmingly say she always has a positive attitude and starts each class with “a joyful and genuine greeting.” Mueller-Northcott always share expectations before a project in the form of project sheets and rubrics. She often asks students to self-assess and self-reflect on their learning throughout the project, but also elicits feedback from them to improve her own teaching as well. Students say Mueller-Northcott is always aware of students who are struggling and will approach them to give them extra help and resources as well as ask them many questions so she can determine exactly why they are struggling.


Students in Mueller-Northcott’s classes get more involved and excited about learning because she is excited to learn and teach each day. She is not afraid to say, “I love this. I’m so into this.” When students were asked to describe Mueller-Northcott’s classroom environment with one word, students replied with words like “welcoming, supportive, positive, innovative, patient, just-right challenging, engaging, fun and wonderful.” Mueller-Northcott's students say that “it is not enough just to learn about the ocean, the science, the chemistry, all the hard stuff. We have to love it if we are going to make a difference. Julianne does it all. She cares about her students. She cares about the world we live in. She makes us believe that we can make a difference. She makes us believe in ourselves.”