Dr. Holly Showalter, the Health Science and Medicine instructor for Waukee APEX, is one of five Iowa teachers to receive the I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher Award. The recipients will be honored by Gov. Kim Reynolds at the Capitol on February 14.
The I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher Award, which is sponsored by Kemin Industries, recognizes one teacher from each of the six Iowa STEM regions who has thoroughly encouraged the interest of their students in a STEM career field. Showalter, who is the South-Central STEM region awardee, will receive $1,500 for personal use and $1,500 to put towards her classroom.
“My greatest achievements as an educator are when I see my APEX associates shine in a professional situation that I coached them on in our team learning environment at APEX. I am proud to be a Waukee APEX instructor and to be noticed as being an innovator in the scientific teaching field,” Showalter said.
Showalter is best known for helping create and fulfill the curriculum for the Human Services sector of Waukee APEX. She earned her Ph.D. in pharmacognosy from Purdue University and also worked with vitamin and dietary supplements for 11 years before becoming an educator.
As an APEX instructor, she continues to guide her student associates to greatness. Last year, during a scientific conference at Drake University, two of Showalter’s associates presented a scientific poster about pediatric bone cancer and won first place while competing against college students.
Showalter builds bridges between education and the scientific world by creating partnerships for APEX with professionals in her field. Partnerships with Blank Park Zoo Research Committee, Iowa Academy of Sciences Student Programs Committee and Mercy College Surgical Tech Curriculum Committee, are some of the examples of how Showalter continues to provide her students with professional level knowledge.
“This education model that we have started in Iowa is not easy to execute and maintain, but the work is so rewarding that it makes me want to work even harder,” Showalter said. “It’s rewarding to not only interact and work with Waukee APEX associates but to be able to watch them as they continue their professional journey and give back to the program.”
Showalter’s associates are currently working on a variety of projects. These include a project where some are measuring the nicotine levels in electronic cigarettes and then reviewing policies local businesses have regarding e-cigarettes and producing an adaptable yoga ball for children and adults with disabilities.
“I constantly ask associates to challenge themselves and to get out of their comfort zone whether that is with the science they are interested in or the professional skills they are learning in APEX. The best learning happens when associates stretch themselves and have a growth mindset,” Showalter said.
The award was created by Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council which is co-chaired by Gov. Kim Reynolds and Accumold President and CEO Roger Hardens. The council prides itself on encouraging more individuals to take part in STEM careers. STEM careers include Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). By highlighting educators in the STEM curriculum through the I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher Award, the council strives to maintain Iowa’s leadership in education and the workforce.