JACKSON, Tenn. – Jana Young’s love for teaching middle school science is not just evident to her colleagues and students at the Academic Academy at Northeast Middle School. It has earned her the prestigious Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Award for the state of Tennessee from the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT).
Young said she is incredibly honored to receive the distinction. “I work really hard to make my class better every day and year, so it’s nice to have the hard work recognized,” she stated. “I work with some amazing teachers and know many great teachers in the state. To be considered among their ranks is humbling.”
The awards by NAGT are given for “exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the Earth Science at the pre-college level.” Young was nominated by her fellow teacher and previous winner John Griffin.
A 7-year teaching veteran, Young has taught 7th grade Advanced Science and Environmental Science at the Academic Academy for the past four years. She previously taught in Calloway County, Kentucky, and in the Paris Special School District. “I like to plan enriching activities that students can learn the content in a hands-on way, then step back while they DO science,” explained Young. “I then simply help them along the way.”
Teaching Earth Science is what Young considers a perfect combination of everything she loves about what she does. “I get to teach biology, chemistry and physics as they apply to the earth,” she said. “I think educating students about the environment and human impact on it will have the most impact toward preserving it.”
Along with her full-time teaching duties, Young has coached the Academic Pentathlon team and sponsored Junior Beta since she began at the Academic Academy. For the past three years, she has also served as a Destination Imagination team manager. “I take on these after-school activities because I believe it is important for students to feel a part of a team even if they are not athletic,” she explained. “I also enjoy spending time with my students outside of serious classroom time.”
Ultimately, Young hopes whether in the classroom or during her after-school time with students she is giving them critical thinking skills, is preparing them for high school and is instilling a love for science and learning. “My middle schoolers are really figuring out who they are as individuals,” she said. “I have a unique opportunity to help them become positive, driven and respectful young adults.”
Born in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Young grew up in Metro-Detroit. She is a graduate of Murray State University. She and her husband, Tommy, have a farm and raise Boer goats and have two horses.
Young will received her Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Award in a special ceremony in Murfreesboro in November.