AFA Announces National Teacher of the Year

August 10, 2018

August 10, 2018


AFA Announces National Teacher of the Year

Arlington, Va. – The Air Force Association (AFA) is thrilled to announce that Beth Leavitt of Wade Hampton High School, Greenville, SC, has been named the 2018 AFA National Aerospace Teacher of the Year (TOY) presented by Rolls-Royce.

As part of AFA’s mission to encourage aerospace education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, the TOY program ensures America’s aerospace excellence by supporting teachers who carry out that mission in the classroom.

“We congratulate teacher Beth Leavitt for her recognition as the Air Force Association National Teacher of the Year for 2018,” said Jarrett Jones, Executive Vice President of Customer Business and Government Relations for Rolls-Royce. “STEM learning is critically important for the future of the US Air Force, Rolls-Royce and our nation. We wish Beth continued success in her efforts to prepare future engineers and leaders in science, technology, engineering and math.”

Beth Leavitt has been a physical science, chemistry, astronomy, engineering, and physics teacher at Wade Hampton High School in Greenville, SC, since 1999. She holds a degree in the sciences and previously worked as an environmental chemist for 12 years. Leavitt is currently lead of the Professional Learning Community in Physics, and workshop presenter in her school district, state, and across the nation for High Schools That Work and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).

“Our 2018 Teacher of the Year, Beth Leavitt from South Carolina, continues our legacy of excellence and extraordinary dedication in our selectees,” said Brig Gen Dick Bundy, USAF (Ret.), AFA Vice Chairman for Aerospace Education. “Her experience in the corporate world prior to becoming a teacher has enhanced her ability at being innovative and collaborative. Her total dedication to her students, STEM programs, and her creativity have made her the top choice for this special award.”

Leavitt collaborated with Buzz Aldrin’s Share Space Foundation to bring Giant Mars Maps to her school district and beyond, and has helped develop the curriculum to accompany these interactive maps. Additionally, she co-wrote physical science standards and presented a videotaped lesson on the solar eclipse for her school district. She is the director of FIRST Robotics Team 283, coordinating community engagement and developing and implementing summer engineering camps at Greenville Tech and Sevier Middle School.

“The reason I engage in many after-school robotics programs is that these ‘extended learning’ environments are where students define a problem and then set about locating, selecting, organizing, presenting, and finally solving a problem,” said Leavitt. “For a lifelong learner, it is an essential strategy. Being able to set parameters for the scope of a project, as well as setting and sticking to a timeline for the completion of a project, is an imperative skill to ensure learning continues throughout a lifetime.”

Leavitt has garnered grants totaling $32,000 to conduct enrichment STEM programs and is a member and/or awardee of numerous national organizations, including American Modeling Teachers Association, iMAGINE Upstate STEMfest Board, NASA Networks of Educator Astronaut Teachers, American Vacuum Symposium Teacher Fellow, Fulbright Memorial Teacher Award to Japan, and National Space Club’s 2017 Educator of the Year, among others.

The second and third place winners for AFA National Teachers of the Year presented by Rolls-Royce are as follows:

Spencer Kiper

Second Place Winner
Elm Grove Middle School
Shreveport, LA

Sherilyn Coburn Dawson

Third Place Winner
Concord Christian School
Knoxville, TN

The Air Force Association is grateful to its Aerospace Education Program Platinum sponsor, Rolls-Royce, for their continued sponsorship of the AFA Teacher of the Year program, allowing the program to continue honoring educational innovators in STEM. The AFA Teacher of the Year program dates back to the early 1990s when the mission to recognize classroom teachers (K-12) for their innovative and successful instructional programs originally began.

The Air Force Association is a non-profit, independent, professional military and aerospace education association. Our mission is to promote a dominant United States Air Force and a strong national defense, and to honor Airmen and our Air Force Heritage.

Media Contact:

McKinnon Pearse