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Education alum earns national teaching award

A Blugold graduate who has continued to partner with his alma mater has earned national honors for his work as a high school science teacher. 

Adam Keeton, who graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 2001, won the 2015 Outstanding Earth Science Teacher award from the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. 

An earth science teacher at North High School in Eau Claire, Keeton's ongoing partnerships with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and his outstanding methods of engaging students in research at the pre-college level were among his achievements noted by the association when announcing his award. 

Through two distinct partnership efforts with the university, Keeton says he was able to expose high-school-age students to the wonders of science and to the thrill of making their own scientific discoveries in highly rigorous programs, yet keeping it fun and engaging. 

For the last eight summers, Keeton has partnered with UW-Eau Claire's Office of Multicultural Affairs' pre-college summer program. The programs offer high-potential first-generation college bound high school students unique science experiences that give them a glimpse college-level science in a real college setting.

Keeton also works with Dr. Garry Running, professor of geography, on instruction and best practices in science at the high school and college level.

"Our goal is to ensure that good instruction is occurring in both, and that we high school science folks are preparing our students with the skills they need to succeed in college," Keeton said of the ongoing partnership.

Through their partnership, the educators also create unique research opportunities that allow high school students to study in cooperation with their older counterparts. For example, a joint research project included students in a geography class taught by Running and ninth-graders from North High School examining soil and land use on the campus of Northstar Middle School in Eau Claire. The students worked together to create a poster for CERCA, the student research day held at UW-Eau Claire each spring. The project was the only research in CERCA that included high school student researchers. 

"At North, specifically, I have tried over the years to emphasize the notion of science as not a class that is taken, but rather an elegant and yet systematic way to understand the world around all of us," Keeton said. "We try as a collection of really dedicated and passionate science teachers, to take this understanding and apply it in a way so that students graduate with not just content knowledge but also skills and most importantly, an appreciation for how science impacts and benefits us all." 

While Keeton has appreciated his time at North, he soon will move into a new position — he's been named the new principal at Flynn Elementary in Eau Claire.

"I am really sad to be leaving the classroom," Keeton said. "My heart will always be in the sciences, and I will miss the amazing climate, culture, staff and students at North, but I am also excited to begin this new adventure and to help foster a joy of learning in all areas with the terrific staff at Flynn."