AVHS teacher wins state award | July 1, 2011 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |


Pleasanton Weekly

News - July 1, 2011

AVHS teacher wins state award

Cutter credited with steering students toward science

by Glenn Wohltmann

Beth Cutter of Amador Valley High School has been selected as the 2011 California outstanding biology teacher.

Cutter, a biology/life science teacher currently teaching chemistry and biological science at Amador Valley High School, was a life sciences scholar at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from 1999-2002.

She's been teaching at Amador since 2006 and is a member of the teacher committee that organizes the Science Extravaganza for K-4 grade students, providing more than 30 hands-on science stations where high school students lead lessons for youngsters.

One of her colleagues, Heather Pereira, who also teaches biology and chemistry, called Cutter "an active collaborator."

"She regularly meets with me and other biology teachers to develop new curriculum and come up with new ways to keep kids interested and engaged in biology," Pereira said.

Former student Ellora Staker said Cutter awakened a passion for science in her.

"After one year and two classes with Mrs. Cutter, I have decided to pursue this interest instilled by her; I am majoring in biochemistry at Brigham Young University, and a large part of that decision was her influence as an educator and mentor," Staker said.

A special presentation will be made by the National Association of Biology Teachers at its National Professional Development Conference in October in Anaheim. In addition to the certificates awarded, Cutter will be given a microscope from Leica Microsystems Inc.

Cutter has been the advisor for the school's science team since it began in 2008 and supports student participation in the Science Bowl, and Chemistry, Biology, Physics, and Science Olympiads. For the past three years Cutter has advised an individual student and a team of students with independent research projects, which received the Sweepstakes award at the local Tri-Valley Intel Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), earning them a place at the International ISEF.

The award will be given by one of Pleasanton's own, Heidi Haugen, who is head of the committee that searches for outstanding biology teachers.

"I am especially excited to be able to present this award to a teacher from my own alma mater," Haugen said. "I grew up in Pleasanton and my mother, Juanita Haugen, was a well-known school board member and proponent of a quality education for all children.

"I graduated from Amador Valley High School in 1982 and attribute my passion for teaching to my excellent teachers from Amador and also Pleasanton Middle School (Mr. Bill Bowen). It's excellent teachers like these and Beth Cutter who help mold our future scientist, engineers, biologists, etc., and future generations."