Two San Fernando Valley science teachers received special awards from USC and the Greater Los Angeles Teachers of Science Assn.
Anna M. Gaiter, a first-grade science teacher at Harding Street Elementary School in Sylmar, and Margie Weitkamp, a science teacher at Chaminade College Preparatory in West Hills, were among the three teachers who received the awards, presented for the first time.
Santa Monica resident Michael A. Morgan, chairman of the science department and Advanced Placement chemistry teacher at Bravo Medical Magnet School in Los Angeles, was also honored.
The winners received either a $1,000 cash award or a tuition waiver for one science education graduate course at the USC School of Education.
"The awards were given to teachers who have developed an outstanding reputation in the field of teaching science to children," said Sarah Berry, principal of Harding Street Elementary, which participates in LEARN, the Los Angeles Unified School District's reform program. "Mrs. Gaiter is exemplary."
Berry added that Gaiter participates in an array of state-sponsored programs designed to train elementary school instructors to do a better job of teaching science. Gaiter also teaches science-related courses during school holidays at the California Museum of Science and Industry in Los Angeles, Berry said.
Weitkamp, a science teacher for 23 years, has been a docent at the Los Angeles Zoo for 16 years. She founded and coordinates the yearly science fair at Chaminade and has served as treasurer and board member of the Los Angeles County Science Fair.
The awards were presented by USC's Nobel Prize-winning chemist, George A. Olah, in a ceremony Saturday.
The award program was started this year by USC President Steven B. Sample to acknowledge the role played by classroom science teachers and support improvements in science instruction.