GBS Parent Association named 2014 Distinguished Teacher

GBS science teacher Mary Ann Ericksen is awarded 2014 Distinguished Teacher at May’s Honors and Awards assembly after 19 years of service fostering a positive classroom environment.

Glenbrook South’s Parent Association has named Mary Ann Ericksen its 2014 Distinguished Teacher. Below is the release:

Mary Ann Ericksen can trace her passion for science back to her childhood years of exploring nature and learning about animals. In elementary school, she collected rocks and brought tadpoles to show-and-tell. As a college student, she pursued chemistry and environmental studies as majors.

Today, she has parlayed her excitement for science into a successful career teaching the subjects she loves and sharing her enthusiasm with the hundreds of students who enroll in her classes each year.

The Glenbrook South Parents Association has named Ericksen this year’s Distinguished Teacher, citing her 19 years at GBS molding minds and celebrating each of the students in her classroom.

“It is such an honor to be chosen when there are so many deserving individuals. The award means a lot to me, both as a member of the GBS science department and as a woman in science,” Ericksen said. “I am humbled to be honored in something that feels like what I was meant to do. It doesn’t feel like a job interacting with the high school students, they energize you; I never look at my watch.”

Students and colleagues describe Ericksen’s classroom as characterized by sincere encouragement, positive attitudes, and genuine concern and respect. They note the individualized effort she makes to send home weekly handwritten notes to parents telling them of the great work done by their son or daughter.

Ericksen explained that finding ways to connect with every student is her deepest ambition and proudest accomplishment. In her classroom, a lesson on the skeletal system can become a session where everyone shares a personal story of a broken bone or a trip to the emergency room or a discussion on nutrients can lead to analyzing what goes into a burger and fries from a McDonald’s Happy Meal.

“Fostering a positive classroom atmosphere means lectures become more of a discussion and classmates become more like friends. Students aren’t going to contribute if they’re worried or self-conscious, but once they feel comfortable, they’re willing to ask or share anything, which helps them relate to the subject,” Ericksen said.

Since joining the GBS science department in 1994, Ericksen has continued to make a lasting impact on Titan spirit by continuously opening her classrooms to involvement in school events and activities.  She said her classes fulfill goals for the Letters to Santa campaign and the Canned Food Drive as a method of nurturing students’ relationship with each other, science and GBS at large.

“Mrs. Ericksen has succeeded year after year in holding the attention of her students and helping them consistently achieve high scores,” wrote a student in a nomination letter. “And, even more important, Mrs. Ericksen has also succeeded in capturing the imaginations of her students, and thus helping them achieve the understanding that biology does not solely exist in the pages of their textbooks, but is as alive, complex, and growing as the organisms that it studies.”

Ericksen received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Northern Illinois University and her Master of Arts in Teacher Leadership from Roosevelt University. Prior to teaching at GBS, she taught science at Saint Viator High School and District 214’s Young Adult Education Program. She has been a member of the National Science Teachers Association and the National Biology Teachers Association, where she has presented at national conferences.

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