Alexis Daniels began teaching science at Port Allen High School two years ago after leaving a well-paying job offshore to pursue her passion. She is also one of 20 teachers in the country to win the Maitland P. Simmons Memorial Award this year.
To be considered for the award, teachers must be in their first five years of teaching and be nominated by another teacher. The application process included an essay, a letter of recommendation from the principal, and a copy of her curriculum. The recommendation letter principal James Jackson wrote was one that came from the heart, he said.
“We’re very, very proud of her,” Jackson said.
The award includes a $1,000 scholarship to attend the National Science Teacher conference in Los Angeles, March 30 through April 2.
Last year Daniels attended the Smithsonian Science Education Academy for Teachers (SSEAT) where she met with scientists who study earth history and climate change. Daniels was asked to help present information to local teachers by SSEAT as the program travels to different states.
“She went last year and was just attending but some of the conversations she had and the passion she showed impressed the people at the conference,” Jackson said.
Daniels teaches environmental science, earth science and an oil and gas class at Port Allen High School. She worked in the field before deciding to teach.
After earning her degree in geology she worked offshore for two years as a mudlogger, but hated it, she said. Mudloggers are geologists who gather and monitor information pertaining to drilling operations. They also collect oil samples and detect gases using state-of-the-art equipment.
“She was making a lot more money in her former job than she makes now but she wanted to have an impact on kids and become a teacher,” Jackson said.
After thinking and talking with her mother who is also a high school science teacher, Daniels earned her alternate certification and became a teacher.
The oil and gas class she teaches helps students earn an offshore platform certification upon completion. She hopes to expand the number of certifications students will be able to work towards and receive while they are in high school she said. One program she is hoping to incorporate helps students earn certification for work at Dow.
She especially enjoys being a female that has worked in the field and hopes to inspire other female students to pursue careers in STEM she said.
“I think it’s fun to be able to get girls into these STEM careers that they never would have thought they would be interested in,” Daniels said.