BHS’s Donna Rini wins NSTA Distinguished Teacher Award

Donna Rini

Sheffield Village

Brookside High School’s (BHS) Donna Rini has won a rare honor. Rini will receive the National Science Teachers’ Association’s (NSTA) Distinguished Teacher Award, the highest honor the 60,000-plus member organization can award. A Distinguished Teacher Award is not bestowed every year, and Rini is the first science teacher to be so honored in three years. She is the only science teacher to be nationally honored this year and will receive her Distinguished Teacher Award during the NSTA National Conference Gala in Philadelphia on Friday.

“Donna Rini is an invaluable inspiration to both staff and students at Brookside,” Assistant Principal Bob Shaffer said. “Her dedication has helped us become an excellent school. Our school has gained a new luster by her work.”

Rini, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Notre Dame College and a Masters in Classroom Technology from Bowling Green State University (BGSU), has taught a variety of science courses at BHS for the past seven years while taking post-graduate courses at BGSU and Ashland University. She is a member of the High Schools That Work core team, helped develop the summer “bridge” transition program for students moving from eighth to ninth grade and is a mainstay of the school’s Academic Coaching and Bonus Period programs. Rini is a High School Science Olympiad coach and implemented distance learning with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation into Brookside’s science


“Donna has a vast background, having worked in the science field prior to teaching,” said Assistant Superintendent and Curriculum Director Linda Bertsch Uveges. “She shares her expertise with other teachers, administrators, and parents.”

Rini is active in the classroom, whether she’s teaching required first-year biology or Science Connections to ninth- and 10th-graders or elective anatomy and physiology or chemistry to seniors. Rini’s students say they love her and is annually at the top of graduating seniors’ “favorite teacher” lists.

“In 37 years of teaching high school science it is rare to have a colleague as talented, passionate and professional as Donna Rini,” teacher Randall Brundage said. “Her commitment to science education is unparalleled, her concern for her students unsurpassed and her demand for excellence uncompromising. All of her lessons contain a practical application component so students can see how science concepts are used in various job situations. She is always encouraging students to pursue careers in science … and has been instrumental in students’ pursuit of careers in nursing, biology, engineering and forensics. Mrs. Rini is liked and respected by her students … not because her classes are easy but because they are rigorous and demanding. The students understand this and respond positively to her creative and exciting teaching methods…she is caring and fair.”

“Students entering Brookside in the morning know exactly where to find Mrs. Rini,” according to social studies teacher and academic coaching director Beth Scherry. “She is always standing outside her classroom door meeting and greeting the students. Anyone … might think there is some special event taking place later that day but in reality, the event that has Mrs. Rini cheering and high-fiving students could be anything from an improved quiz grade to a win at last night’s game or the simple fact that a particular student is at school on time. By acknowledging them, she sends a clear message that she is glad they are in school and this motivates students to step up their game. Excellence in the classroom comes from actively engaging the students. For Donna’s students, science is not a spectator sport.”

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