Duane Nickell '80 Earns Top National Honor for Teaching Science & Mathematics
May 8, 2003
May 8, 2003, Greencastle, Ind. - Duane S. Nickell, a 1980 graduate of DePauw University, has been awarded the nation's highest honor for mathematics and science teachers. Nickell, who teaches physics at Franklin Central High School in Indianapolis, is the recipient of a 2002 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Nickell received a special citation from President George W. Bush, a $7,500 cash award, and a paid trip to attend the awards ceremony and other events in Washington, D.C. While in the nation's capital, Nickell met with First Lady Laura Bush in the White House and enjoyed dinner at the State Department.
"My goal is to be absolutely the best teacher I can be," Nickell says. "I enjoy thinking up new ways of presenting the information, new and different labs and demonstrations. I take a more conceptual approach to teaching physics. Traditionally, physics has been taught as algebraic problem solving, and that is an obstacle for many students. The conceptual approach makes physics more accessible.
A double major in physics and mathematics at DePauw, Nickell has received numerous awards for his teaching, including a Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellowship, Radio Shack National Teacher Award, National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and Golden Apple Award. Recently, he was named the outstanding associate faculty member in the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, where he teaches a physics course for elementary education majors.
Nickell cites his professors at DePauw as having a significant impact on him personally and in developing his career. In particular, he remembers and stays in touch with Ernest Henninger, emeritus professor of physics. Nickell also recalls the late Paul B. Kissinger, emeritus professor of physics and astronomy, and he once performed in Kissinger's barbershop quartet. I received a great deal of individual attention at DePauw, especially in my physics classes," Nickell said. "And I blossomed intellectually at DePauw."
After graduating from DePauw, Nickell earned a master's degree in physics at the University of Kentucky and an Ed.D. at Indiana University. Prior to joining Franklin Central High School two years ago, he taught at Decatur Central and Broad Ripple high schools in Indianapolis. He is married to Pamela (Meador '80) Nickell, a pediatric nurse practitioner at Riley Hospital for Children.
The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching Program was established by President Reagan in 1983 and is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The program identifies outstanding mathematics and science teachers, kindergarten through 12th grade, in each state and the four U.S. jurisdictions. These teachers serve as models for their colleagues and are leaders in the improvement of science and mathematics education.
To read more about the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching Program, click here. Duane Nickell's award is also noted in a news release from the office of U.S. Representative Dan Burton (R- Indiana), which includes a color photo of Nickell with the congressman (seen above at left). Access it here.Back