Dawn Kahler, a key contributor to the Michigan Science Teaching and Assessment Reform Project (Mi-STAR) has received a Catalyst Education Award for exceptional teaching.
Kahler teaches eighth grade science at Milwood Magnet School for Math, Science and Technology. She joined the Kalamazoo Public Schools in 1993, first teaching fifth and sixth grade and then, in 2005, teaching to middle school science. She is among four teachers from southwest Michigan to receive a Catalyst Education Award, which is sponsored by the economic development group Southwest Michigan First.
This is the inaugural year of the awards, which “celebrate great educators in our community who are uplifting our next generation.”
Kahler is playing an active role in Mi-STAR, which is developing a middle school science curriculum that aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards. In addition to helping to write the curriculum, she has also piloted two units in her classroom. “Dawn has been especially valuable to help us design science units to be engaging, to drive inquiry and to foster critical thinking skills,” Mi-STAR curriculum development coordinator Douglas Oppliger wrote in nominating her for the Catalyst Award. “Dawn’s skills as a teacher and communicator have been invaluable to the project.”
Kahler has long focused her efforts on teaching critical thinking skills and incorporates Interactive Science Journals in her classes. These student-written journals help students demonstrate what they have learned and make connections between prior learning, current learning and the real world.
Among her many honors and accomplishments, she has been named an Exemplar of Excellence at Western Michigan University, where she completed her undergraduate education; has served four times as a speaker for the Michigan Science Teachers Association; and has trained as a Next Generation Science Exemplar, exhibiting mastery of the Next Generation Science Standards. She has also earned an MS in Applied Science from Michigan Technological University.
Kahler received her Catalyst Award at a Jan. 26 ceremony in Kalamazoo. The honor includes $2,500 for each recipient, plus an addition $2,500 to fund the school project of their choice.