Pictured are (from left) Isaac Simpson, Emily Panchak, Rowan Short and American Chemical Society teacher of the year John Scali.

Teacher honored

UD alum Scali named American Chemical Society teacher of year

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9:44 a.m., March 26, 2014--John Scali, a University of Delaware alumnus who teaches at Concord High School, has been named the 2013 Delaware High School Teacher of the Year by the American Chemical Society (ACS).

The ACS award recognizes outstanding teachers who challenge and inspire their students, demonstrate leadership and active involvement in their profession through activities that stimulate the interest of young people in science, and pursue higher degrees in chemistry.

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Scali, a chemistry teacher for 15 years, has embraced this philosophy in his classroom at Concord High School by integrating engineering and other real-life principles into his science lessons. He helps his students develop the necessary skills to become confident problem-solvers by emphasizing time management and critical and analytical thinking. 

For each unit, Scali’s students are expected to achieve understanding of the specified principles by asking questions and solving problems, like scientists do. He doesn’t give answers, just guided questions, and students develop answers using whatever tools suit their learning style -- worksheets, labs, experiments.  

Some students might find this methodology to be a challenge at first, but soon discover it is a fun and effective way to learn.

A lifelong learner, Scali received his undergraduate degree in chemistry education from UD in 1999, a master’s degree in education in 2005 and a doctorate in education in 2011. 

He is participating in the STEM Professional Development program through UD’s Professional Development Center for Educators.

Scali said he was thrilled to be recognized for his ability to effectively communicate his knowledge to high school students and credits his time at UD for helping him hone the skills that brought him to this point in his career.

“My education at UD has been invaluable in my growth as an educator,” said Scali. “My professors allowed me to explore my teaching and to refine my practices through research-based reflection and planning. They pushed me to perform research in my own classroom, refine my teaching methods and to share my findings with the science education research community.”

He added, “I crossed paths with some of the most influential educators in my career. Dr. Zoubeida Dagher, Dr. Danielle Ford, Mr. Frank Livoy, Dr. Kate Scantlebury, and all of my other professors provided a positive influence throughout my years in the programs and beyond. I would not be the same educator if it was not for their knowledge, support and encouragement.” 

Scali received the teacher of the year award Dec. 12, 2013, at the Doubletree Hotel in Wilmington. He was nominated for the award by his colleague Wanda Lentz, a recipient of the ACS award in 2002 and also a graduate UD’s master of instruction program. 

“I nominated John because he is an outstanding, innovative, caring chemistry educator who challenges himself, his students, and his colleagues to do their best and to seek to know and understand more,” said Lentz. “He consistently reviews his practice, seeking for continuous improvement, incorporating new ideas as appropriate and continuing to use tried and true methods that help students on their path to understanding chemistry.”

Article by Elizabeth Penczak

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