Alumni Notes

January 31, 2013

Alumna receives national biology teacher award

NatlBiologyTeach_HeatherPetersonMentor teacher and College of Education alumna Heather Peterson (’98, secondary teaching certificate) has received the 2012 National Outstanding Biology Teacher Award.

Peterson received the award from the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) during the association’s recent professional development conference in Dallas.

“We don’t get a lot of recognition in teaching, so it feels nice to have the recognition from peers and professors,” said Peterson. “We’ve also had a supportive school and community — our doors are always open.”

Now in her 21st year of teaching, Peterson (BS ’92, MS ’97, MSU College of Natural Science) is a biology teacher at Holt High School and has served as a mentor teacher to dozens of teacher candidates and interns. This year, she is working with four MSU seniors.

“She [Peterson] is a wonderful mentor, and a great example of professional growth,” said associate professor of teacher education Gail Richmond. “She advocates for ambitious pedagogy and models what she teaches. She is a significant force at Holt and she shares her knowledge not just within but outside the classroom.”

Peterson is also head coach of the Holt Science Olympiad team. She is the science department chair and participates regularly on numerous panels and committees related to the field of biology. In addition to biology, Peterson also teaches human physiology and botany.

More Alumni News


Peter Flynn

College of Education alumnus Peter Flynn, MA ’69, Ph.D. ’71 (Curriculum, Secondary Teacher Education), has received the 2012 Superintendent of the Year award from the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA). Flynn retired earlier this year as superintendent of the Freeport School District 145 in Freeport, Ill. after 12 years.

During his 41-year career, he spent time as a teacher, assistant professor and, prior to joining the Freeport school district, served as superintendent of schools in Pennsylvania, Iowa and Kentucky.

John E. Peterson, MA ’71 (Health and Physical Education), renewed his contract in the National Football League (NFL) as a player evaluator with the Carolina Panthers located in Charlotte, N.C. and achieves retirement at its conclusion. During his time in the NFL, Peterson evaluated and recommended players to be drafted and signed by the Seattle Seahawks who advanced to the Super Bowl.
Stephan Walk, MA ’90, Ph.D. ’94 (Physical Education and Exercise Science), continues his roles at California State University, Fullerton as chair of the Department of Kinesiology and faculty athletic representative in the university’s relationship with the NCAA and the Big West Conference. From July to December 2012, Walk served as interim director of intercollegiate athletics.


Professor of teacher education at Western Oregon University, Mark Girod, Ph.D. ’01 (Educational Psychology), has been named interim dean of WOU’s College of Education while Hilda Rosselli takes a leave of absence. Girod started at WOU in 2001 and currently serves as chair for the Division of Teacher Education.
Michael DeGagne

Michael DeGagne

Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education alumnus Michael DeGagné, Ph.D. ’02, has been selected as the president and vice chancellor of Nipissing University in Ontario, Canada, beginning a five-year term in January 2013. Nipissing is a public, liberal arts institution. Before his selection, he was serving as the executive director of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation in Ottawa, Ontario.


Dan Vaughn, Ph.D. ’05 (Kinesiology), has been appointed editor-in-chief of the Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy (JMMT). Vaughn is based at the Physical Therapy Program at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he has both teaching and clinical practice responsibilities. His research at Grand Valley has focused on the efficacy of manual therapy interventions and the influence of therapeutic exercise on spinal posture.


Ericka (Olson) Fatura, MA ’06 (Curriculum and Teaching), was named the 2013 Michigan High School Science Teacher of the Year by the board of the Michigan Science Teachers Association. Fatura is a teacher at Pentwater Public Schools. She was chosen for inspiring her students, demonstrating innovative teaching strategies, being an excellent role model for students and other teachers and exhibiting a passion for science and teaching. She will be honored at an awards ceremony during the 2013 MSTA Conference.