By Edwin Smith | October 1, 2014
John Wiginton, instructional assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry and director of undergraduate laboratories at the University of Mississippi, is the Mississippi Science Teachers Association College Teacher of the Year.
Wiginton will receive a plaque Oct. 21 at the MSTA’s annual convention awards banquet in Jackson. The organization uses its annual convention to allow teachers to present ideas to fellow teachers and to glean information and ideas from each other to better equip themselves for their classroom.
“I am excited and humbled to receive this award,” Wiginton said. “I used to think that the Teacher of the Year was the ‘best’ teacher of the year, but I’ve since come to understand that many of the best educators are far too humble to be recognized easily. There are many more individuals far more deserving than I am.
“It is a supreme honor to be included in the same group with such awe-inspiring and selfless individuals.”
The honoree began teaching non-majors chemistry lecture courses at UM as an instructor in 2003. After Wiginton received his doctorate and was promoted to instructional assistant professor in 2008, he added General Chemistry, Chemistry for Teachers I and II, and Graduate Chemistry for High School Science Teachers I. He has been a laboratory manager since 2003 and the director of undergraduate labs since 2010.
“As the director of our undergraduate laboratory program, Dr. Wiginton has responsibility for 56 sections of laboratory courses,” said Charles “Chuck” Hussey, chair and professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the university. “He works hard to keep abreast of the latest developments in laboratory instruction and has worked with prominent publishing companies to write laboratory manuals for his courses. His hard work is very much appreciated, and we are glad to see him recognized with this award.”
Wiginton reflected upon his teaching career. “I come to work every day excited about the possibilities and leave every day feeling like I have done good, meaningful work,” he said. “Receiving awards is motivating to be sure, but none of us do what we do for the recognition. We do it because we love and care about our rising generation.
“At then end of the day, my reward is seeing my students graduate and become successful individuals and colleagues.”
MSTA award recipients are nominated by peers, students and parents. At the close of the annual convention, MSTA recognizes seven teachers. The Distinguished Science Teacher is one who has previously won an award from MSTA and has continued to be an exemplary teacher. An Informal Science Teacher award is presented to a person who is not employed as a science teacher, but who has contributed to science education in some manner.
Awards are presented for an outstanding new science teacher at any educational level, and for an outstanding elementary teacher, an outstanding middle school teacher, an outstanding high school teacher and an outstanding college teacher.