For the second time in four years, a Belgrade High School teacher has been named the Outstanding Biology Teacher in Montana by the National Association of Biology Teachers.
Katie Capp, 28, who has been teaching for six years, will be honored at the association’s annual conference in November. The awards are bestowed annually upon one secondary education teacher in each state. Candidates are judged on their teaching ability and experience, cooperativeness in the school and community, and student-teacher relationships.
After Capp learned that she had been nominated for the award, she was required to submit an essay about her teaching strategies and philosophies, as well as a video of herself teaching. She said she learned a few things through that process – particularly when she watched the video – about ways to improve her teaching.
That isn’t the only thing Capp has learned this year. The Minnesota native, who completed her undergraduate studies in biology and chemistry at Carroll College in 2013 and her master’s degree at Montana State University in 2017, is pursuing a Ph.D in STEM curriculum and instruction through Texas Tech university. She takes online classes during the school year, but goes to Texas for classroom instruction in the summer.
“It is a lot of work,” Capp says, adding that she spends all day on Saturdays and most of Sundays on her studies during the school year. “My students think it’s funny that they’re in school while I’m in school.”
Capp’s colleague Kim Popham, who won the same outstanding teacher award in 2015 and currently serves as the National Association of Biology Teachers’ director in Montana, says that Capp’s hard work and tremendous energy contribute much to her students. Two years ago, Capp was awarded a Partners in Science grant from the Murdock Trust that enabled her to study immune responses of proteins, a project that enabled her to bring research opportunities to her own students; she now has been awarded a supplemental grant for that research, so the opportunities for Belgrade students will continue, Popham said.
Capp’s award includes gift certificates for science classroom equipment.