GV alumnus Jeff Bouwman named 2019 Science Teacher of the Year

Courtesy: Jeff Bouwman

Courtesy: Jeff Bouwman

Amanda Rogers

Grand Valley State University alumnus Jeff Bouwman was named the 2019 Science Teacher of the Year by the Michigan Science Teachers Association (MSTA).  

Bouwman, ’03, is currently a science teacher at Shumate Middle School in Gibraltar, Mich. Along with being a science teacher, he is also a science education and educational science technology adjunct professor at University of Michigan-Dearborn. 

“It’s an honor. We are doing amazing things for students in the Gibraltar school district,” Bouwman said. “We are providing amazing real-world science opportunities for our students.”

Chair of MSTA Awards Committee Maicki said winning this award shows the community that Bouwman is the best in his field. His accomplishments are celebrated by his students, their families and his peers.

Along with three letters of support from superiors and colleagues, the MTSA looks at teaching strategies, inspiring students, serving as a role model for students and colleagues and evidence of passion for teaching and for science.

“Jeff is an amazing educator, passing on his love of science and the environment to his students through daily hands-on activities,” Maicki said. “He engages them in real world applications of science through these activities.” 

Bouwman focuses a lot of his work towards making “science come alive” in his classroom. He is a Solar System Ambassador for NASA, and he uses this as an opportunity for his students. 

“NASA is using our soil moisture measurements that my students are taking by hand and submitting in,” Bouwman said. 

He wants his students to love science and wants them to develop a lifelong love for the subject that he teaches. 

“I am making kids love science,” Bouwman said. “I hope they will make a difference in the world when they grow up.” 

He and his students are currently raising a threatened species in the classroom and he is using the experience as a way to raise environmental awareness for his students. He is also raising salmon in his classroom, so the students are getting a chance to play a role as marine biologist.

“When my students leave the classroom, I want them to be hungry for more science,” Bouwman said. “I want to engage them and give them that initial love, and from there I want to see them grow.” 

Bouwman said that his advice for current GVSU students is to “stay hungry” and to always be looking for amazing opportunities. 

For students going into education, he says to search for that one thing that will spark the students’ interest, and to remember that there are many ways to make things come alive in the classroom. 

He said that to be energetic you have to love what you do and be passionate, which he portrays every day in the classroom. 

“From students to teachers to the leasers at RESA, Jeff is known to be innovative, enthusiastic and caring,” Maicki said. “He is definitely an award-winning educator!”