Columbian teacher wins award for excellence

Chris Monsour, a 14-year science teacher, continues to learn and evolve as a teacher.

Recently, Monsour was announced as the 2013 winner of the Arthur S. Holden Teacher Award for Excellence in Science Education through the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation.

The foundation recognizes one Ohio teacher for exemplary work in science education each year; Monsour’s grant total was $7,500.

Monsour teaches advanced biology, advance placement biology and a dual enrollment environmental science course through Heidelberg University at Columbian High School.

Monsour said he is to use the money to purchase 15 cordless microscopes for his classroom.

“I do not teach in a traditional science classroom and do not have the outlets to support 15 microscopes with cords,” he said.

The old microscopes then are to be donated to Tiffin Middle School. Monsour said he had been sharing the microscopes with them already.

In addition, Monsour plans to purchase microscopes slides that have examples of cancerous cells. The slides, he said, aid students’ microscopy skills and also show them actual cancerous cells.

The whole project, Monsour said, will be based on the book, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloot. The book takes place in the 1950s and deals with topics such as cancer, medicine and race.

“I used the book as a common read, and my students were so moved by the story that I want to build on the project and make it a common read for my 100 sophomores next year,” Monsour said.

Monsour said he would like to purchase 100 more copies of the book.

“I will use it throughout the first semester, as my students learn concepts in cell biology, genetic and biomedical sciences,” he said.

Monsour said he likes to do more inquiry-based learning, including showing how a novel can make concepts such as cancer relevant to science students.

Monsour earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Heidelberg University, has 30 hours in biology from Miami University and a master’s degree in science education from Montana State University. He has traveled abroad and is involved in the community as a volunteer for The Salvation Army and more.

“My students have also benefited by my community and school leadership,” Monsour said. “They have learned the importance of giving back to the community.”