Cordova educator earns Excellence in Teaching Award

By NICOLE SMITH
Posted 5/18/19

One Cordova High School teacher has been recognized for making a difference in the lives of children.Cordova High science instructor Nicholas Sourvelis received an Excellence in Teaching Award from …

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Cordova educator earns Excellence in Teaching Award

Posted

One Cordova High School teacher has been recognized for making a difference in the lives of children.

Cordova High science instructor Nicholas Sourvelis received an Excellence in Teaching Award from the University of Alabama's Office of Research on Teaching in the Disciplines. The award recognizes Alabama teachers in preschool through 12th grade who foster "excellence in their classes," according to the University of Alabama's website.

To be considered for the award, Sourvelis submitted one of his instructional units that consisted of six lessons on Newton's laws of motion.

"What sets this instructional unit apart from the traditional teaching methods is the inquiry instructional model used," he said, referring to the 5E Instructional Model. The model consists of five teaching stages: Engage, explore, explain, extend and evaluate.

"In short, the primary mode of instruction is student inquiry. Instead of beginning with lecture and student note taking, the teacher begins each lesson with an elicitation question designed to elicit student misconceptions," Sourvelis said. "Students then plan an experiment to test their ideas. The results of each group experiment are presented in class. The teacher takes this opportunity to refine any ideas and present some content, after which students apply what they have learned in guided practice and summative assessments."

Sourvelis has used this method at Cordova High, where he teaches chemistry and physics. He is also chair of the school's science department and coordinates STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) activities.

Prior to teaching at Cordova, Sourvelis was a general science teacher at Oakman High School and Minor High School.  

Always searching for the ultimate answers is what inspired Sourvelis to study science. He later found a desire to teach.

"Science is a challenge. It's a process of discovery. It's a pursuit of curiosity. I love all of those things," he said.  

Walker County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joel Hagood presented Sourvelis with the Excellence in Teaching Award last Thursday. When asked if he wanted to say a few words, Sourvelis simply said, "I just did what they're paying me to do."

He told the Daily Mountain Eagle that he is honored to have his work recognized, but certainly doesn't teach to win awards. 

"It is my goal to inspire my students to take up things that challenge them. Chemistry and physics are tough for most students. It is the challenge that we all strive for though," he said. "Not every student wants to be a scientist. However, the confidence gained from overcoming the challenges of learning has the potential to inspire my students to pursue and accomplish their personal goals."