Judges and honorees of the 2018 Sierra Nevada College Teacher Education Graduate Symposium on March 19, 2018: (L - R) Jim Watson, Allison Mattick, Megan Dee, Diane Machen, Terin Kirk, Amy Barbera, Pilar Biller, McAvoy Layne
Outstanding graduates of the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program were recognized at the Education Graduate Symposium on March 19th.

Graduate Education Symposium 2018

The 2018 Department of Teacher Education Graduate Symposium on March 19th showcased outstanding graduates of the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program. Four 2017 graduates received awards for their Professional Projects, the focus of the Master’s Degree (Phase II) part of the MAT program. The projects were chosen for their professional quality, creativity, use of current research, and educational best practices across a range of grade levels. SNC alumna Pilar Biller, the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year, was awarded the first annual Outstanding Educator Alumni Award.

Pilar Biller, 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year, receiving the SNC Outstanding Educator Alumni Award at the 2018 Sierra Nevada College Teacher Education Graduate Symposium on March 19
Pilar Biller, an art teacher at Damonte Ranch H.S. in Reno, completed her teacher certification through SNC’s MAT program in 1998. After teaching n northern Nevada and California for 18 years, she returned to SNC to finish her master’s degree. She is known for engaging lessons which push her students to think creatively and to problem solve. They share their art in the community and work with local service organizations. It was one of her students at Damonte Ranch who took the initiative to nominate her for the Nevada Teacher of the Year award.

“Pilar is a great example of a teacher who has devoted her career to finding better ways to create and provide engaging lessons for her students.”

– Steve Canavero, Nevada Superintendent of Public Instruction

The Professional Projects Awards

Each award includes a $250 cash prize.

Amy Barbera, honoree of the 2018 Sierra Nevada College Teacher Education Graduate Symposium on March 19Amy Barbera – The Mark Twain Award for Excellence in Writing, Communication, and Presentation
Professional Project on Reading Vocabulary and Comprehension
Teaching Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension Through Read-Alouds: A Resource Guide for First-Grade Teachers Using Complex Texts

Megan Dee, honoree of the 2018 Sierra Nevada College Teacher Education Graduate Symposium on March 19Megan Dee – Eagle Award for Outstanding Professional Project
Professional Project in Environmental Education
A Connection to Nature for Every Student: A Resource Model Guide to Adapt High Quality and Accessible Outdoor Environmental Education for Elementary Educators

Terin Kirk, honoree of the 2018 Sierra Nevada College Teacher Education Graduate Symposium on March 19Terin Kirk – Dr. Maria Meyerson Award for Creativity and Innovation in Curriculum Design
Professional Project in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)
The Citizen Science Project: An Instructional Guide for Middle School Citizen Science

Diane Machen, honoree of the 2018 Sierra Nevada College Teacher Education Graduate Symposium on March 19Diane Machen – Provost Award for Achievement of Excellence in Research and Impact on Teaching Practices –
Professional Project in Forensic Science
Seeing Science and Literacy Through a Different Lens: A Framework of Forensic Science Activities for 12th-Grade Science Educators

The awards were presented by a panel of judges who are respected educators in their own right. Jim Watson recently retired from the Lake Tahoe Unified School District in South Lake Tahoe as Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources and Staff Development. Allison Mattick, an award winner of the 2016 Graduate Symposium and a 2015 Sierra Nevada College graduate, is a middle school teacher at Clayton Middle School in Reno.

McAvoy Layne, “an educator in a costume”, is a Mark Twain impressionist and writer. He has embodied the wit & wisdom of “The Wild Humorist of the Pacific Slope” in over four thousand performances from Piper’s Opera House in Virginia City to Leningrad University in Russia. He played the ghost of Samuel Clemens in the Biography Channel’s episode on Mark Twain, and in the Discovery Channel’s Cronkite Award winning documentary Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. McAvoy is a winner of the Nevada Award for Excellence in School and Library Service and author of the forthcoming book The Secret Lives of Pine Nuts.

“McAvoy is an ambassador of the arts wherever he performs.”

– Judith Clark, Director, Nevada State Council on the Arts


photo: (L – R) Jim Watson, Allison Mattick, Megan Dee, Diane Machen, Terin Kirk, Amy Barbera, Pilar Biller, McAvoy Layne
photo credit: Eagle’s Eye reporter Celine Holland

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