Alumna Wins Award for Excellence in Teaching Chemistry

June 3, 2014 | by the Office of Marketing and Communications

Elmhurst College alumna Tracy McDonald has been named the 2014 recipient of the Davidson Award, a prize given to one teacher annually by the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois and the Illinois Chemical Education Foundation in recognition of outstanding high school chemistry teaching.

McDonald is a science teacher at Hinsdale South High School, where she currently teaches chemistry and anatomy and physiology. She earned a master’s degree in Teacher Leadership from Elmhurst College in 2010.

At the annual scholarship luncheon for the Illinois Chemical Education Foundation (ICEF) and the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois (CICI), held in late May, McDonald was presented with a plaque and a monetary award of $3,000.

The 2014 Davidson Award marked the 48th consecutive year that the award has been given. Candidates were evaluated on the basis of their innovative teaching methods, ability to relate theory to practical chemistry, participation in special programs and success with students.

“Every year we visit chemistry classes all over the state and Tracy is definitely one of the best teachers,” said W. Scott Dillavou, education chairman of the CICI and a member of the Davidson Award selection committee. “All of the students we talked to had great things to say about her and her classes.”

McDonald taught for three years before deciding to get her master’s degree in Teacher Leadership at Elmhurst College, and credits her education with helping to shape her approach to teaching.

“I had so many great professors in the program, and they really encouraged me to come out of my shell and be creative,” she said “They gave me the confidence to take risks in the classroom, and to do the research and bring it back to the classroom.”

McDonald said that what she enjoys most about teaching science is working with her students. “They’re eager to learn, and they like discovering what they need to learn, rather than being told. They really challenge me to be the best teacher I can be every day. I’m always trying to think of new ways to engage them.”

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