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DC teacher of the year makes science ‘come alive’ for students

Jan Schuettpelz (center), a seventh grade science teacher at Alice Deal Middle School in Northwest, on Wednesday was named the D.C. Public Schools Teacher of the Year award. In the photo, she is joined by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Chancellor Antwan Wilson and students at the school. (WTOP/John Aaron)

WASHINGTON — A local teacher is being honored for her work in getting students interested in science.

Jan Schuettpelz, a seventh grade science teacher at Alice Deal Middle School in Northwest, on Wednesday received the D.C. Public Schools Teacher of the Year award.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Chancellor Antwan Wilson paid a surprise visit to Schuettpelz’s classroom Wednesday to make the announcement.

“Folks call her ‘Miss Frizzle’,” said Jessica Rauch, president and executive director of the D.C. Public Education Fund, referencing the fictional school teacher in the Magic School Bus franchise. “She has a way of making science come alive for students.”

Each week, Schuettpelz has a former NASA scientist volunteer in the classroom and has also started a girls’ science club at the school, according to Michelle Lerner, press secretary for D.C. Public Schools.

“Her students, on a scale of one to 10, gave her an 11 rating,” Lerner said.

Schuettpelz was caught off guard by the announcement, and struck a humble tone after learning of the honor.

“I certainly am not the best teacher and there’s always room to grow,” she said. But she added that she hopes her efforts will encourage students to strive to become the next great scientist.

For being named Teacher of the Year, Schuettpelz gets a $10,000 award and will be among those honored in a ceremony at the Kennedy Center in March.


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