I am honored to be recognized with the Presidential Award in science instruction because I know there are many other deserving teachers out there. My coworkers, school administrators, and my family have encouraged me to create units of study to engage students and increase their knowledge and understanding of science, and it is gratifying to be recognized for that. I feel extremely blessed for this recognition. The award helps me encourage teachers to embrace the importance of science education.
Gayla Hammer has been an educator for 33 years, and has spent the past five years teaching sixth grade science at Lander Middle School. Previously, she taught at South Elementary School, West Elementary School, and in Winnemucca, NV.
Teaching science by including the natural world is a focus of Gayla's teaching. Her students learn by connecting units of study to the environment. For the past 12 years, she has taken her sixth graders to Yellowstone National Park, teaching her students the ecology and geology of the area. She wrote lessons for a World War II unit and included science and mathematics concepts, which are available on the American Battle Monument Commission website. Gayla has also written World War I lessons for the National History Day program.
Gayla has been the Science Fair District and History Day Coordinator for her school district. She engages students with programs to increase their learning, which allows them to investigate topics of their choice.
She earned her B.A. in kindergarten through sixth grade elementary education and a B.A. in K-12 special education from the University of Wyoming; a M.Ed. in middle school science from Walden University; and she is a National Board Certified Teacher. Besides being a science teacher, her teaching career has included teaching special education at the elementary school level.