Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Norman Weston

Second Advisor

Dr. Vicki Gunther

Third Advisor

Dr. Linell Monson-Lasswell


The purpose of this dissertation was to determine how extraordinary science teachers develop their teaching mojo. The teachers investigated were recipients of the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST). This investigation focuses specifically on science instruction. The method used for this investigation was individual and group interviews conducted with eight PAEMST recipients. Five themes emerged from these interviews: 1. Science is a natural motivator for learning; 2. Students need to be scientifically literate citizens; 3. A critical “trigger event” propelled each of these teachers towards great science instruction; 4. Each sought out and engaged in ongoing, challenging professional development; 5. Despite isolation and inconsistent administrative support, all became and remain rock-solid advocates for science instruction. Recommendations for district-level administration and principals to identify, support, and sustain exemplary science teachers include: 1. Embrace science as a natural motivator for learning; 2. Increase support for science instruction as related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curricula and instruction; 3. Provide exceptional professional development in best practices in science curriculum and instruction for both teachers and administrators; 4. Make this professional development hands-on and rigorous; 5. When seeking to identify possible science teachers in your school or district, look for those individuals who have demonstrated a strong desire to extend themselves professionally.