Hepsi Zsoldos, an eighth-grade Earth science teacher at Talley Middle School in Wilmington, is the winner of the Governor’s Marine Science Teacher-of-the-Year Award.
The award was established by the University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program, in partnership with the Office of the Governor, to recognize an outstanding Delaware teacher who demonstrates a strong commitment to educating students about marine and coastal resources. Zsoldos is the first recipient of the prestigious award, which will be bestowed annually.
In their award announcement, Governor Ruth Ann Minner and Dr. Carolyn Thoroughgood, dean of the UD Graduate College of Marine Studies, praised Zsoldos for her “impressive talents and accomplishments in marine science education” and “the many ways you engage students in the fascinating world of our oceans and coasts.” They noted, “It is teachers like you — who go beyond the call of duty to help students realize their full potential — that are helping to make the educational system in Delaware among the best in the nation.”
Zsoldos has developed a number of hands-on activities to teach students about the marine environment, including “A Tale of Two Estuaries,” a comparative study of the Delaware and Chesapeake bays. In this unique program, students conduct water sampling and other research operations aboard a historic oyster skipjack in the Chesapeake Bay. They also participate in a three-day field trip at Cape Henlopen, where they learn firsthand about Delaware’s marshes, dunes, and beaches.
Several Delaware teachers were nominated for this year’s award. Each nominee was required to submit detailed information regarding their programs, lesson plans, and activities focusing on the marine environment; the impacts of these activities on their students; and additional examples underscoring their commitment to marine education, ranging from course work to community service activities.
The judges selected the winner based on four major criteria: creativity, innovation, quality of teaching, and impact on students. The distinguished panel included representatives from the Governor’s Office, University of Delaware, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, and the Delaware Teachers Center.
As this year’s award winner, Zsoldos will receive an all-expense-paid trip to the 2002 National Marine Educators Association (NMEA) conference, the largest assembly of marine and aquatic science educators in the world. This year’s conference will be held July 22–26 in New London, Connecticut.
She also will be recognized at UD’s Coast Day, on Sunday, October 6, at the Lewes campus, where she will have the opportunity to share project ideas and teaching techniques through hands-on activities or exhibits.
The call for nominations for next year’s award will be issued in January 2003. For more information, please contact the Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service at (302) 645-4346.