We lost a great biology educator, Kim Foglia on Jan. 4th, 2011 after a long, dignified and courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. Back in 2009 a number of AP Biology teachers got together and worked hard to establish an award from NABT, sponsored by Pearson, Benjamin Cummings, recognizing Kim’s unprecedented contributions to the AP Biology teaching community. She was not able to attend the ceremony at the national meeting but she sent a letter that Patti Nolan Bertino read in her stead. At the time I thought the letter was particularly reflective of the Kim I knew. She was appreciative and honored but she immediately put it a challenge back on all of us. Patti, recently shared the original letter with me and I reproduce it here to honor Kim and to pass her challenge onto the NABT and AP Biology communities:
I want to thank the National Association of Biology Teachers for honoring me with the AP Biology Service award. I am truly overwhelmed by the attention, but the recognition is much appreciated. I was so sad that I couldn’t attend this meeting in person, so I want to thank Patti for acting as my stand in. I also want to thank all the teachers that have been sending me prayers and well-wishes this year. You have no idea how much you have bolstered my spirit and strength. I am pleased to say that I am winning my personal war on cancer and look forward to attending next year’s meeting.
This award is for service to the AP Biology teaching community. In that vein, I want to issue a challenge to the teachers in this room. You would not believe how many teachers write to me each year pleading for help, telling me they are taking over the AP Biology program at their school and the retiring or departing teacher has left them with nothing. Rather than this proprietary stance, we need to see ourselves as art of a community–a cooperative communty.
We lose nothing by sharing. In fact, we all gain. I know I have gained as much from other teachers as I have given out through my Web Site. So here’s my teacher challenge: Look at your classroom and pick out your best practices and offer to freeely share them with teachers beyond your district. You’ll be amazed at how much more you will get back.
And to NABT, I issue this challenge. Become the active catalyst to creating this collaborative community. Acknowledging individual efforts through this award is the first step. It is a wonderful idea.
However, may I suggest, you can go further. We need an online community through which we can archive and share quality resources developed by teachers. There are some very successful models for this that we can learn from. And it could become the premier venue for best practices in biology teacher. I look forward to working with you to bring such a project to a successful launch.
We have nothing to lose and so much more to gain.
November 12, 2009
We’ve got our work cut out for us. There is a new AP Biology curriculum coming down the line. Kim was helping us write some of the new labs for this revision. The new approach is going to require more than ever that we, as a community, get together, like Kim has challenged and build our own set of resources that reflect the kind of excellent teaching and mentorship that was the hallmark of Kim Foglia.
She was very talented, with a deep knowledge and passion for biology but even more than that she had spunk. I admired her talent and spunk greatly.
We need more teachers like Kim–it’s time to answer her challenge.