Some go to France for romance, others for art, but science teacher Shannon Halkyard is going for chemistry on money granted to him by the school.
“My proposal was to spend time in France,” Halkyard said. “France had a big role in the development of modern chemistry. We’ve studied the theories and laws of many French chemists in high school, and I hope this trip will provide my class with some new cultural perspective.”
The Faculty and Staff Development Committee, that includes school President Ann Marie Krejcarek, granted Halkyard and three other teachers — Amanda Walker, Paul Pryor Lorentz and Eric Gordon — grants for exemplary performance.
“Two awards are based around excellence,” committee Raymond O’Connor said. “Two are grants to enhance their professional growth. We decide as a committee who presented the best proposal for the grants, based on how it’s written and what they say they’ll do with the money. Teachers generally want to either go on trips with the money or ask to take a specific course.”
The Sister Ann Conroy Award for Faculty Excellence was established in 2013 and is named after the director of Schools of the Sacred Heart San Francisco from 1984–1994. All high school faculty and staff can apply for this award by submitting a proposal for what they would do to benefit the community with the grant money.
“I’ve applied for the award the two previous years,” Halkyard said. “My proposal was very similar each time so I’m not sure what was different this time, but I’m grateful for the award. It’s great to have your work recognized.”
English teacher Benjamin Su, who stresses the importance of cultural understanding to his class, received the Conroy Award last year.
“My proposal was a trip to the Middle East where I would study Arabic,” Su said. “I went to Israel as well as Palestine, Jordan and Egypt. Americans know a lot of one-sided narratives about the Middle East, and it’s been good to share my interactions with my colleagues and students.”
Halkyard says he believes that a cultural perspective is important to chemistry as well, and says it is important to recognize the achievements of scientists from other countries.
“If you went to school in the United States you might not know that the Wright Brothers weren’t the first to fly,” Halkyard said. “There’s all those perspectives that you don’t see if you stay in one place. You have to go to those other places and hear from those people to learn about their perspectives.”