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Southwood Teacher Named Indiana’s Outstanding Biology Teacher

The National Association of Biology Teachers recently announced Mrs. Reena Markstahler as the recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Biology Teacher Award for Indiana. Each year the NABT awards one teacher per state with an Outstanding Biology Teacher Award. These teachers are nominated by their peers and must submit an educational philosophy essay, lesson plan, video of that lesson, and four recommendation letters. It's a tough and competitive process!

Mrs. Markstahler is a Manchester College graduate who has been teaching for 21 years. She just completed her 17th year at Southwood Jr./Sr. High School, where she currently teaches AP Biology, Biology I, and Anatomy/Physiology. During that time, she also earned her Master’s from Indiana-Purdue University Fort Wayne and is currently working on further graduate course work through Indiana Wesleyan University, which will allow her to teach dual credit courses at the high school level.

In her educational philosophy essay, Mrs. Markstahler stated, “I teach because I am a life-long learner and I want to provide my students with the skills to know how to learn and appreciate the ever-changing world of science. How I teach is related to developing relationships with kids and other teachers. By allowing students to participate and be actively involved in their learning allows me to walk the room, talk with the kids, provide guidance, and celebrate success.”

This relationship-focused approach goes beyond the classroom for Reena too, as she also serves as a Southwood Assistant Wrestling Coach.

“Each year my focus is always the same: teach students how to think for themselves, and at the same time, provide a safe environment to make mistakes along the way. I reinforce to students that by making mistakes we learn and we get better, and I always celebrate the success of any size.”

Both Southwood Jr./Sr. High and MSD of Wabash County are immensely proud of Mrs. Markstahler’s accomplishment and are thankful to have outstanding teachers like her teaching and influencing the lives of their students.

Southwood Principal Andrew McDaniel stated, “Mrs. Markstahler is an excellent teacher, but she is also so motivated to continually improve and grow as an educator. She regularly incorporates creativity and hands-on activities into her science classes, but also challenges her students to achieve a high standard.”

The feeling of appreciation is mutual for Reena too. “Southwood is my ‘forever school’. I love our school culture, our kids, my colleagues, and my administration!”