Grand Valley education assistant wins national teaching award

Sherry Claflin holds a stuffed fish while teaching a lesson in a classroom at AWRI.
Sherry Claflin holds a stuffed fish while teaching a lesson in a classroom at AWRI.
Image credit - Courtesy Photo

Sherry Claflin, an educator at Grand Valley State University's Annis Water Resources Institute, has been named the 2017 Michigan Outstanding Earth Science Teacher by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. 

The annual award is given for "exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the Earth Sciences at the pre-college level," according to the association. 

Claflin is the lead instructor for the R.B. Annis Educational Foundation classroom programs at AWRI in Muskegon, and works with pre-college students as part of the institute's Water Resources Outreach Education Programs. The programs combine hands-on classroom science instruction with research that takes place on AWRI's education and research vessels.

Claflin was honored for her ability to adapt her lessons using individualized strategies and new materials, her ability to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all students and her collaboration with other schools and organizations to expand student opportunities. 

"We are very fortunate to have Sherry taking the lead in our classroom programs at AWRI," said Janet Vail, director of education and outreach programs at AWRI. "She effectively engages students in hands-on science activities that have 'real-world' applications."

Education and outreach programs are an important part of AWRI's mission and have been taking place since 1986. The Water Resources Outreach Education Program has allowed more than 167,000 students to experience water research in a hands-on fashion. 

The NAGT was established in 1938 with the goal to improve geoscience education, emphasize the relevance and cultural significance of the earth sciences, and to disseminate knowledge to educators and the general public. The competitive Outstanding Earth Science Teaching Award program was established in 1971 to identify, recognize and reward excellence in teaching.

For more information on AWRI's education and outreach programs, visit



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