Three FISD Staff Are Statewide Science Award Winners

Nov 17, 2021

2021 Three STAT Winners - McLeod, Tollinger and EwaldEvery year the Science Teacher Association of Texas honors six educators from across the state. This year, Frisco ISD is proud to have three of those six serving our students right here in the District.

Elementary Science Teacher of the Year Melissa Tollinger, High School Science Teacher of the Year Sabrina Ewald and Distinguished Leadership in Science winner Laura Lee McLeod were recognized as statewide winners last week at the Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching in Fort Worth.

Tollinger, Ewald and McLeod were recognized for their incredible talent, creativity and ability to inspire students and staff in Frisco ISD, the region and across the state. They were nominated by fellow STAT members and were thrilled to learn that they were recognized for their passion for the subject.

Congratulations to these incredible educators who are dedicated to their craft and bring their best to the District every day.

Melissa Tollinger - Outstanding Elementary Science Teacher of the Year 

Tollinger is a fifth grader science and math teacher at Riddle Elementary where she has taught for 13 years.

Prior to moving to Texas, she taught earth science at East Carolina University. Melissa holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Pennsylvania State University’s College of Earth & Mineral Sciences and a master’s degree from East Carolina University’s Department of Geography, Planning, & Environment. 

When she moved to Texas, she took a job in FISD as a special education paraprofessional; it wasn't long until her passion for reaching every student led her to seek a full-time teaching position.

Tollinger believes in providing a safe, consistent learning environment where students can feel comfortable taking risks, engaging in productive struggle and participating in student-centered, inquiry-based learning. 

“My favorite part of teaching is the relationships and rapport with the kids,” Tollinger said. “I enjoy making the class a warm, safe environment where students feel comfortable taking risks.”

She motivates her students daily to participate in problem solving and critical thinking to gain a deeper understanding of the concepts being taught. Her dedication promotes mastery of the class content and the development of inquiry-based mindsets in her students.

Sabrina Ewald - Outstanding High School Science Teacher of the Year

Ewald has been in education for 20 years and teaches AP environmental science and earth and space science at Centennial High School. 

She earned her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in education and science at Louisiana Tech University, where she began her studies in geology before changing to secondary science education.

For the past 16 years, she has helped implement and grow the science elective classes at Centennial and helped develop the district curriculum for these courses. She actively supports and sponsors many student organizations relating to STEM and also mock trial. 

Ewald is renowned for her hands-on approach to geoscience education that helps students comprehend and retain information faster and longer than archaic sit-and-get lessons.

“Geology and geosciences are a critical part of the modern world and it is important that students have an opportunity to explore these fields of science,” Ewald said. “I am committed to giving them a caring and engaging educational experience by delivering student-centered inquiry and investigation-based opportunities.” 

Earlier this year, she was named the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Foundation K–12 National Teacher of the Year and has earned numerous awards in STEM and geoscience education.

Laura Lee McLeod - Distinguished Leadership in Science Administrator Award

McLeod is in her 20th year with Frisco ISD and in her 33rd year in education. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Texas A&M and a master’s degree from Grand Canyon University.

She was in the classroom for 19 years, teaching third, fifth, and seventh grades. For the past 13 years, she has served in the Teaching and Learning Elementary Science Department, currently serving as PreK-5 science coordinator. As a science coordinator, McLeod enjoys working with and supporting teachers and students with science phenomena and teaching pedagogy.

“Science education is important because it explains the world around us and incorporates all other subjects,” McLeod said. “Elementary students are inquisitive and curious about their world and I love when I have the opportunity to see the wonderment and excitement in students across the District.”

Laura Lee is an experienced educator who is passionate about science education and student science literacy and has served on the Science Teachers Association of Texas board, being named President in 2017–18.

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