Alumnus nominated for national award

(Ball State Daily News – Page 2 – July 5, 1989) 

Staff Writer

An alumnus was recently announced to be a finalist for the Indiana Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching.

If Gary Emmert, a Teacher’s College graduate, wins the competition, he could receive a $7,000 grant to be used for classroom needs and a trip to Washington, D.C. to be recognized by President Bush, the Indiana Department of Education announced.

Emmert was nominated by David Shull, principal of Ben Davis Junior High School in Indianapolis. Shull had previously nominated Emmert for the award in 1988.

“Gary is an outstanding educator. He’s very dedicated and effective at teaching all ability levels. He believes that all kids can learn,” said Shull.

This year Emmert is one of three Indiana finalists for the award in mathematics teaching. State Superintendent of Public Instructions H. Dean Evens said that the winner would be announced during the first week of September.

A national panel of scientists, mathematicians and educators will judge the finalists on the basis of experience, education and professional memberships, recommendations, essays, and proposed use of the awards for classroom activities.

Emmert, nominated for the National Science Foundation award for the second time, works well with others, Shull said. Emmert is also well regarded by fellow teachers. This year he was nominated by his peers for the Wayne Township teacher of the year award.

“Gary is a good team player. He’s no prima donna. He is still humble and admits freely that he learns from those around him,” said Shull.

Emmert also incorporates principles of physics onto his math classes, Shull said. This past year Emmert had his classes do such projects as create a capsule that would protect a raw egg when dropped from the top of the school and design and build boats for a race after the students estimated the amount of water displacement would be caused by the weight of the team.

Emmert also acts as the faculty advisor and founder of the Ben Davis Junior High chapter of Odyssey of the Mind, a national student problem-solving organization.

This year, the team was challenged to come up with a machine that would perform twelve tasks on its own. The team’s gadget won the state championship and placed in the top 15 in the national competition in Boulder, Colo.

The three years of Emmert advising Odyssey of the Mind teams has produced three state championships and placement in the national top 15 twice.

“In the four years that Gary has been at Ben Davis Junior High, he has stood for academic excellence,” Shull said. “I wish we had a school full of teachers like Gary Emmert.”

Emmert is on academic leave for the summer, according to Ben Davis Junior High, and could not be reached by the Daily News for comment.