Every day is a new challenge when students walk into Hargrave High School science teacher Debra Nolte’s classroom.
In her 20th year of teaching, Nolte feels this is exactly where she is supposed to be and is inspired by her students each day. Although her original plan was to become a dentist like her father, Nolte found that teaching was the perfect profession for her.
While on a family outing, Nolte received an email and was surprised when it was announced she was named the Science Teachers Association of Texas Outstanding Secondary Teacher of the Year Award – High School.
Nolte will receive her award at the Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching in San Antonio in November. She also will give a presentation on how she keeps students engaged in the classroom.
Nolte has a degree in biology and earned her teacher’s certification. Her first teaching experience was in a chemistry classroom.
From there, Nolte made the decision to go back to college to earn her degree in English because she loved writing and wanted to diversify her teaching skills.
“I have always wanted to have a degree in the subject I taught,” Nolte said. “I was a student-teacher for a senior English class at Hamshire-Fannett High School in Hamshire, Texas, and then was hired to teach senior English at Hardin-Jefferson High School in Sour Lake,” Nolte said. “I taught English for 10 years until around 2002 when I received a call from the science department head, offering me a science teacher position.”
Nolte taught Pre-AP chemistry, biology and English for a year before becoming a science teacher full-time until there was an opportunity to move to the Huffman Independent School District as a chemistry teacher at Hargrave High School in 2012.
“I knew this was the perfect position for me at Huffman ISD,” Nolte said. “With one focus, chemistry, I knew I could truly reach all of my students. I teach pre-AP chemistry, AP chemistry, AP environmental science and biology since then. I am always up for new challenges so it is unique to have an English and science degree and very happy with teaching science right now.”
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