Hoffman Estates High School Teacher Tanya Katovich Receives Prestigious Davidson Award


Tanya Katovich, science teacher at Hoffman Estates High School, was recently presented the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois (CICI) Davidson Award through the Illinois Chemical Education Foundation (ICEF) for her excellence in teaching chemistry.

Tanya Katovich, science teacher at Hoffman Estates High School, was recently presented the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois (CICI) Davidson Award through the Illinois Chemical Education Foundation (ICEF). The award goes to an outstanding teacher who exemplifies excellence in teaching chemistry.

This is the 49th consecutive year that CICI has presented the Davidson Award to recognize teaching excellence. ICEF presented Katovich with a plaque commemorating the award and $3,000 at the ICEF/CICI Annual Scholarship Luncheon. She will be recognized by the Board of Education at its June 11 meeting.

“This award is very special in terms of someone recognizing my potential as a teacher,” Katovich said. “I feel like in our profession, rarely are teachers given a pat on the back, so for someone to say, ‘you are awesome as a teacher,’ meant so much to me.”

Candidates are evaluated on the basis of their innovative teaching methods, their ability to relate theory to practical chemistry, their participation in special programs, and teaching success with their students. Information supplied by each candidate and recommendations from the candidate’s principal or department head determined which nominees were observed during an unannounced classroom visit.

In her application, Katovich said she wrote about some of her work she is most proud of, which include teaching and presenting experiences both in and out of District 211. In addition to teaching at HEHS, some of her recent positions include presenter and participant in the Northern IL Science Educators Conference, co-teacher of a chemistry class at Fermilab and Aurora University, and teacher fellow at Northwestern University.

While she did not receive feedback from CICI regarding why she specifically was chosen for the award, Katovich wrote of several teaching experiences in her application. One major project, on which she is teaching a course in Aurora this summer, is about how to implement Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). NGSS aims to prepare students to be engineers or scientists, and schools in Illinois will need to have an implementation program in place by 2016. While technology continues to advance, she said it is important for teachers to reinvent how they teach.

“These standards are very different than our critical learning standards,” she said. “It requires teachers to get kids to do things hands-on, whether that means designing their own labs, discussing their labs with other people, or writing their labs scientifically. I always like and embrace change, so I would like to take a larger role in implementing NGSS in the future.”

She also discussed her One-to-One teaching style and how it helps her reach students even when they are not in class. She creates YouTube videos, online labs, and utilizes technology to help her students access a great education even when they are not in school. Using iPads, she has connected her students with resources from all over the country. One of the highlights of the school year was an online presentation from a guest speaker discussing the effects of drugs using biochemistry. She believes these applicable lectures and resources help students outside of the classroom, as well.

“I find it amazing how kids respond to these types of lectures,” she said. “I always believed that the ‘don’t do drugs’ lecture never works on teenagers, but the moment they hear what drugs do to your body and how the addiction occurs from a biochemistry perspective, they are captured in the moment.”

These types of lectures and innovative techniques to teach students science all were evaluated in her application. Katovich said the award sums up the whole reason why she is teaching – her students.

“Receiving the Davidson Award, I don’t want to say it’s the pinnacle of my career, but it’s really the highest point in terms of professional achievement that I have attained,” she said. “My students were excited and believed in me. Their opinion of their teacher is sometimes the most important thing because they are the ones that benefit from great teaching.”