Environmental awareness is a prime focus for a seventh-year AP science teacher.
High School Winner
Westerville North High School, Westerville City School District
Innovative, inspiring and exceptional are words colleagues use to describe Caitlin “Cait” Maloy, a Westerville North High School science teacher who was named the high school winner in the Columbus Parent/ThisWeek Community News 2019 Teachers of the Year awards.
Maloy, 30, has taught science for seven years at North, and she’s also known for spearheading the school’s Recycling Club that collects paper and plastic materials each week throughout the building. “All of Cait’s students absolutely love her and respect her,” says Erin Morckel, who also teaches science at North. “She has kids in her room all day long. A lot of kids seek advice from her. She’s really relatable.”
Even though she has been teaching AP environmental science for years, Morckel says, Maloy never does the same lesson twice. “She’s always striving to be a better teacher,” she says.
Morckel collaborates with Maloy as part of a professional learning team. “She inspires me to improve my lessons,” Morckel says. “She’s very inspiring in terms of her desire to get kids outside and get kids to care about the environment. She’s always incorporating current events.”
Maloy says she got into education initially because her AP biology teacher, who was also her basketball coach, helped her discover her passion for science. “I found that teaching was a way I could incorporate many of the things that I enjoy doing: helping others, teaching about the environment and just being involved in general,” she says.
A 2007 graduate of Geneva High School in Northeast Ohio, Maloy earned a bachelor’s degree in science from Ohio State University in 2011 and a master’s degree in education from OSU in 2012.
During her student teaching experience at Westerville North, Maloy was mentored by Lyndsey Manzo, the high school science curriculum specialist. “Without her early guidance, I would be nowhere near the teacher I am today,” Maloy says.
Manzo says she has been fortunate to watch Maloy grow as a teacher. “She has taken an environmental science program and really made it blossom throughout the school,” Manzo says. “It’s not just with the kids who take her classes, but also the other kids who join her for other projects.”
If there’s a new way to do something to help students engage with the course material, Manzo says, Maloy figures out how to do it. “She really does a good job of making sure she can reach every student and help them all succeed,” she adds.
For this year’s Teachers of the Year awards (the sixth year for the project), readers nominated educators from school districts all over Central Ohio. Nominations were taken online Jan. 2-30. The editorial staffs from Columbus Parent and ThisWeek reviewed all of the submissions, did some independent research and chose 15 finalists, who were voted on by the public March 7-27. Three winners were chosen: one each at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Maloy was honored at an April 30 gathering at the school, which was attended by M. Scott Reeves, the district’s executive director of secondary academic affairs.
Her nomination from the Westerville Education Foundation noted that Maloy runs a community-based composting program that draws upon local resources such as the city of Westerville, Otterbein University, Java Central and the Westerville Area Resource Ministry. In the past 18 months, the program has processed more than 20 tons of food waste. “Ms. Maloy’s unique style of teaching and social responsibility is not just good for students, but she is an asset to the entire Westerville City School District community,” the nomination said.
Principal Kurt Yancey says Maloy is an exceptional teacher who was not afraid to take on the challenge of AP environmental science when a former teacher took a job in the district’s curriculum office. “She does an amazing job of finding ways to inspire her students to do their best, and they truly want to work hard for her,” he says. “I am most impressed with the relationships she builds with each and every one of her students. This is the greatest reason for her success.”
Maloy, a Westerville resident, says her favorite part of the job is working with the students and helping foster their appreciation for the planet. “Being an environmental science teacher, I have the unique opportunity to actually get my kids outside and experience nature on an almost weekly basis,” she says. “It’s amazing to see the appreciation students gain for the environment over the course of a year.”
Marla K. Kuhlman is a reporter for ThisWeek Community News.