It is a tremendous honor to be identified among the amazing STEM educators that have received the Presidential Award. It acknowledges innovation and excellence in science teaching and I am humbled that my passion for authentic learning experiences is recognized. It is also recognition of the hard work of my students and the colleagues with whom I have been privileged to collaborate. This honor fuels my passion and my responsibility to advocate for the best science education for all students.

Karen Olson Baraboo, WI | 7-12, Science, 2019

The official biography below was current at the time of the award.

Karen Olson has been a teacher for 21 years. She currently serves as an instructional coach and has taught 9th-12th grade biology and astronomy classes for seven years at Baraboo High School. Previously, she was a science teacher for 14 years at Waunakee Community High School teaching biology, biotechnology, astronomy, weather and climate, and physical science classes. Karen's students collaborate with community agencies and design mitigation plans to reduce impacts of human disturbances on local ecosystems. She uses modeling of phenomenon to engage students in scientific inquiry. Karen is on the building leadership team and has mentored new teachers for 13 years. In 2006, Karen was chosen for the Astrobiology Summer Science Experience for Teachers (ASSET) where she trained with NASA scientists to develop curriculum using astrobiology research. In 2014, Karen was named the Wisconsin Environmental Education Energy Educator of the Year and was named a 2016 Herb Kohl Educational Foundation Teacher Fellow. She has presented numerous times at Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers conferences and one time at the National Science Teaching Association Regional Conference. Karen is National Board Certified in adolescent/young adult science. Karen earned a B.S. in biology education and broad field science from the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and a M.S. in curriculum and instruction from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She holds grades 6–12 teaching certifications in biology, earth and space science, and physical science. Karen holds K–12 certifications in athletic coaching and as an instructional technology specialist. She has additional certifications as a Level 1 certified trauma practitioner; environmental education; and coaching and mentoring beginning teachers.