Courtney Matulka is known for encouraging her students to think beyond the "Why?" questions to the "What if?" questions, and she has a wealth of creative ways to get them to do so. At Omaha's Beadle Middle School, Matulka teaches her 8th-grade science students about mining with the help of the chunks in chocolate chip cookies. She also leads Pictionary games that are dedicated to learning about types of energy matter, and Walk It to Know It, a hopscotch game that focuses on the earth's atmospheric conditions. Daily Discoveries on her chalkboard might let her kids know where the most complete T-rex skeleton was discovered in 1990.
This boundless creativity has made a lasting impact on Matulka's students. Their state NeSA science scores increased from 2011 to 2014, with those who were in the "SP3 Exceed" group rising from 24% to 48%. Matulka encourages student buy-in in class by stating the day's learning goal, as well as by creating a bit of friendly student competition.
With a 2008 B.S. in education from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a 2010 master’s of secondary education from the same school, Matulka is also certified for grades 4-9 in both natural and social sciences. Extensively involved in community and outreach, she has participated in the KICKS2 Physics Institute's seminars for the last three years, as well as in the Metropolitan Omaha Educational Consortium's Mentor Project. She's presented at 2013's Nebraska Association of Teachers for Science Conference and represented her school in the NeSA-S Standard Setting Session at the state level.
As head of Beadle's science department, Matulka is known for her work ethic and has created a collegial environment where all science teachers see themselves as a collective unit working for the common goal. Considered a role model by many of her colleagues, she is sought after by district curriculum and staff development offices for leadership on district committees. Yet the creative core of Matulka's teaching is what propels her students forward, with its springboard for deep student learning and her passion for being a classroom teacher.
"We know that all students will experience failure....[Our job] is giving them the skills for overcoming those failures."..." (read more)
Oct 23, 2015
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