Apr. 13, 2021
Biola alumnus and now Woodland Park High School science teacher Aaron Sams (’99, M.A. ’04) has been recognized by the White House for his teaching skills, including using technology to stimulate academic excellence in science instruction. On June 7, Sams was named as a recipient of one of the nation’s most prestigious teaching awards–the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching–joining a total of just 103 teachers nationwide to receive the award this year.
As reported by The Colorado Springs Gazette, Sams uses podcasts instead of classroom lectures to engage his science students. In 2007, Sams and colleague Jonathan Bergmann introduced the concept to their classrooms and have not looked back since. They now train other teachers in their district and throughout the country on how to use podcasts in the classroom.
This new concept has raised student grades. His students are engaged and received more one-on-one time with their teacher.
Sams graduated from Biola in 1999 with a degree in biochemistry, then returned to Biola to get his master’s degree in education, graduating in 2004.
Biola’s School of Education is proud of Sams’ leadership in the field of education.
"This esteemed honor goes to a select few in the country, and Aaron, like other cutting-edge teachers, is taking what he knows about technology to extend and maximize classroom time,” said Biola’s School of Education Dean June Hetzel. “I truly appreciate his approach in replacing lectures with podcasts so that students can listen, repeat, and rewind their teacher's lectures, as needed, to ensure that they deeply understand the material.
“This teaching methodology opens the door for more learning and teacher/student interaction in the classroom. In today's job market, where we are still short on well-qualified math and science teachers across the country, it is encouraging to see our alumnus, Aaron Sams, rise to the top in math/science education,” Hetzel said.
“I am also pleased to see the leadership that Aaron is taking in math/science education as he co-chaired the statewide committee that revised standards for science and as he and colleagues continue to provide in servicing to others around the country. This is a well-deserved honor and Biola's School of Education and School of Arts and Sciences will continue to enjoy tracking Aaron's education career. Congratulations Aaron!"
Winners of the presidential award receive a cash prize of $10,000 and an all expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., where they will attend an awards ceremony.
For more information, Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator, can be reached at (562) 777-4061 or through email at jenna [dot] l [dot] bartlo [at] biola [dot] edu.
Assistant Director of Media Relations and Strategic Communication
Senior Director of University Communications
media [dot] relations [at] biola [dot] edu