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Middle School Science Teacher Named AAPG Regional Teacher of the Year

and One of Six Finalists for National Award


Shady Side Academy Middle School science teacher Matt Brunner (Ross Township) has been named the American Association for Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) Foundation Eastern Region Teacher of the Year and is one of six finalists for AAPG’s national Teacher of the Year award.


The AAPG Foundation Teacher of the Year program recognizes K-12 teachers in the United States who demonstrate outstanding leadership in the field of geoscience education. Six teachers across the country have been chosen as finalists, each from one of six U.S. geographic regions: Pacific, Rocky Mountain, Mid-Continent, Southwest, Gulf Coast and Eastern. One finalist will be chosen as the 2018 Teacher of the Year and will be presented with a $6,000 award at the AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition in Salt Lake City, Utah, on May 20-23. The award includes $3,000 for school use under the teacher's supervision for educational purposes and $3,000 for personal use by the teacher. The winner will also receive an expense-paid trip for two to the convention to receive the award. The remaining five finalists will receive an honorable mention and a $500 cash award. Learn more.


Brunner was nominated for the award by Albert Kollar, a geologist and collection manager of invertebrate paleontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and Ray Follador, a petroleum geologist. 


Brunner has taught sixth grade earth science at SSA since 2005 and also coaches the Middle School robotics and rocketry teams, as well as soccer and track. A highlight of Brunner’s curriculum is the interdisciplinary Energy Quest Project, where sixth graders research case studies on the installation of Marcellus shale gas wells and windmills in local communities. Students are assigned roles of developers, town officials, residents or environmentalists and prepare scientific arguments, write questions and create videos supporting their positions. The project culminates in a mock town meeting, where students debate and vote on the proposals.


“I am honored to be recognized by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists for my work teaching students about energy. Through the sixth grade Energy Quest town meeting, where they debate the economic and environmental issues associated with Marcellus shale drilling and wind power, my students are able to recognize that there are costs and benefits for all energy sources. It is important that students understand the pros and cons of the energy sources that we use daily for heating and electricity.”


Shady Side Academy is a nationally respected private school in Pittsburgh for boys and girls in grades PK-12, with an optional boarding experience in high school. Four age-specific campuses with extraordinary resources, teachers who actively mentor, a forward-thinking curriculum, a diverse and inclusive community, and a legacy of alumni accomplishments all inspire Shady Side students to high achievement in academics, the arts and athletics, and to meaningful ambitions in life. Learn more at www.shadysideacademy.org.

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