2017 Shugrue Award winner Gary Koppelman believes that the development of community relationships and making positive decisions impacting the world begins in the classroom where students learn truths as owners of their community and the environment around them. As an elementary science teacher at Blissfield Elementary School in Blissfield, MI, he allows students to find solutions and experience imaginative possibilities, generating autonomous thinkers. Students learning creative classroom solutions can find answers to world problems.
Koppelman takes a “hands-on, minds-on” approach to teaching and experiential learning. His classroom has various creative biomes, taking students around the world daily. The BELL, connected to his classroom, is a climatically controlled greenhouse at the cutting edge of life-science investigation. It is furnished with various habitats for observation and experimentation as students research and examine plants and animals.
Allowing students to experience science in a cross-curricular manner builds self-confidence in social and academic areas, making connections and learning in unique ways. Jerry Johnson, Superintendent of Blissfield Community Schools, says, “Mr. Koppelman is a recognized leader within our district and throughout the region, lending his skills and knowledge as a Master Teacher, Curriculum Leader, and guest speaker. He has traveled abroad, spoken to world leaders, and been recognized with multiple awards and recognition such as the Shell Science Teaching Award and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.”