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Distinguished Service and Bob Thompson Awards

Each year The NEED Project receives nominations for the Distinguished Service Award and for the Bob Thompson Excellence in Energy Education Award. These nominees are among the most committed NEED teachers, NEED sponsors, and NEED friends. They represent NEED’s mission and philosophy by engaging students in energy explorations, by helping teachers learn how to effectively teach energy in their classrooms, and by supporting NEED with their time and talents. They join a long list of great NEED people who have been a part of NEED’s success for many years.

Bob Thompson Excellence in Energy Education Award


Right after Thanksgiving 2012, NEED received word that, Bob Thompson, one of our former teachers and staff members died suddenly. For the NEED family, this loss reminded us of the great times we had with Bob and his wife Debbie and all the fun we had as a team at teacher workshops, NEED Energy Conferences for Educators and our BP Solar Schools, BP A+ for Energy Program workshops and many others. Bob was a key part of our H2 Educate and Wind for Schools programming early on and delivered workshops for us in Illinois and all across the country for several years. When I think of Bob, I think of all the gee whiz moments that happen in science. I also think of Bob's childlike wonder about science, and specifically about energy. We're an organization of Energy Nerds. Big ones. We think of energy as a unifying theme in science. We think of energy as cool. Bob loved energy and loved teaching about energy. He also loved taking care of people. I can attest that I never picked up my own luggage, never had to carry my own laptop bag or open a door when Bob was around. He was a gentleman, a great teacher, and an explorer. As an ultralight pilot he would fly near wind turbines installed in Illinois. As a huge fan of aerospace, he would stand with me in the Avis parking lot at Los Angeles International Airport and stare into the heavens at the jet planes coming in to land. Then there was the time he shoved my ice cream cone in my face. That was funny. It was also cooling since we were in La Quinta, California

It was all science. All the time. Bob explored. Bob taught exploration. Bob energized workshops of teachers and classrooms of kids.

He was special. Special to all of us at NEED and to the teachers and students he worked with over time. Because of this, NEED has established the Bob Thompson Excellence in Energy Award that will be given each year to a teacher who exemplifies Bob's childlike wonder of science and energy. The award includes a $1,000 cash grant to the teacher to use as he/she chooses in the classroom and an all-expenses paid trip to the NEED Energy Conference for Educators hosted each July. This year, the award will be given at the Annual NEED Youth Awards for Energy Achievement in Washington, D.C. and the teacher will attend the NEED Energy Conference for Educators.

- Mary Spruill, Executive Director

Have a teacher to nominate? Want to apply?

2017 Excellence in Energy Education Application - (doc)  (pdf)


Joseph Paris – 2016 Bob Thompson Excellence in Energy Education Award - Press Release

Joseph’s nomination by his colleague David Kelly (West Chester Area School District) detailed all the reasons that Joseph deserves the Bob Thompson Excellence in Energy Award including his commitment and dedication to students and his encouragement of students to work harder, think deeper, and collaborate to find solutions.  He has taken career and technology education to a new level – bringing engineering to the forefront and bringing real-world applications of science and technology to his students and his peers.   He is always looking for an opportunity to learn and to teach and he always is willing to answer a question, encourage exploration, and assist students and fellow teachers alike. 
Joseph develops relationships that bring good things to his students and his school and the West Chester School District.   As a key leader in NEED’s partnership in the PECO Energizing Education Program in Philadelphia, Joseph has mentored teachers new to the program and helped them find ways to bring energy to life in the classroom. He encourages and engages in learning at all levels, at all times.   As his colleague David Kelly said, “We enter our office in the morning and rather than say hello, we say ‘As I was saying…’ and head back into a thoughtful discussion of how to make technology education real and authentic for students.”     
Paul Joyce, West Chester Area School District’s Supervisor of Science, Technology Education, Family and Consumer Science described Joseph this way, “Joe Paris is a fine gentleman and an excellent educator. His dedication to energy education for the students of WCASD in teaching and learning along with his own professional growth have been instrumental in changing the direction of Technology Education in WCASD and in many other districts too.”
Congratulations to this great energy educator and wonderful friend of NEED. 

Past Bob Thompson Winners
Erin Gockel and Constance Josvai
Karen McPherson
Barbara Lazar

Distinguished Service Award 

Each year The NEED Project selects an individual or individuals who have made a significant impact on NEED’s success during their involvement over at least a 10 year period to receive the Distinguished Service Award. The award recognizes a commitment to energy education and a dedication to making NEED stronger and the best it can be. Previous winners include NEED teachers, NEED champions within the energy industry, energy professionals, public servants working for energy agencies, and more.


Shannon Donovan, Renee Roddick, and Kelly Ann Couch – Distinguished Service Award

The NEED Project congratulates the 2016 Distinguished Service Award Winners – Shannon Donovan of Scituate High School in Scituate, Rhode Island,  Renee Roddick of Forestville Road Elementary School in Knightdale, North Carolina and Kelly Ann Couch of Louisville Gas & Electric/Kentucky Utilities of Louisville, Kentucky.
Shannon Donovan serves as an active participant on NEED’s Teacher Advisory Board – writing curriculum, reviewing curriculum, and more. She has taken personal responsibility for growing NEED’s Rhode Island effort and the results are clear today.  More schools, more energy, more excitement than ever before. By hosting Rhode Island workshops and sharing her passion for energy education with students and teachers, Shannon has personally taught and mentored hundreds of kids and teachers to be smarter energy consumers. She thinks about the big picture –  what each person can do to make a difference each day, and she lives what she teaches – with sustainable farming, eco-friendly living and local efforts to improve sustainability.   She is on the go for NEED too, facilitating NEED workshops across Rhode Island. She is dedicated, supportive and fun.  NEED is very lucky to have her in our extraordinary family of educators. 
As her Principal, now Assistant Superintendent, Mike Sollitto said, “Of all Shannon’s qualities, the one that is most striking is her commitment to her students.  For the past 11 years, she has served as the advisor for the Scituate National Energy Education Development (NEED) Club. The club has been named NEED senior high school club of the year for Rhode Island for 11 consecutive years. For 4 of those years, the NEED club was the National Club of the year! Her commitment and dedication inspire her students to go above and beyond expectations. Further evidence of this is Ms. Donovan’s work in her classroom on a daily basis. Shannon runs our Robotics program and is currently teaching a Robotics II course that offers students college credit through the Community College of Rhode Island. She also taught her classes this year from the mid-Atlantic via Skype and Twitter.  She was aboard the research vessel The Endeavor and communicated with student digitally. These types of connections are examples of what makes Ms. Donovan an extraordinary educator.”
Renee Roddick retires from teaching this year after many years inspiring her students and fellow teachers to love teaching and learning and to be passionate about energy and the environment. Renee’s long-time participate in NEED began over 15 years ago. She has taught NEED in the classroom and also hosted the Forestville Road Energy STARS. Hundreds of students later, her work has helped Wake County Public Schools meet its energy goals and has inspired students and teachers to do great things. Always game for a challenge, Renee and her students led Wake County’s EnergySavers efforts throughout the district, teaching hundreds of teachers how to incorporate energy into their classrooms and how to reduce energy use in school buildings. She helped make Power Dude, the mascot for the EnergySavers Program a household name in the county. Renee took her teaching and learning on the road too – taking student teams across the state to help teach others. Jeri Preddy, former manager of the EnergySavers program, said “Renee is the best. Always ready to help. Always ready to teach. Always dedicated to inspiring kids to learn and teach others. She is a big part of why our EnergySavers program was successful.” 

Kelly Ann Couch joined NEED’s sponsors and partners when she launched the Children’s Energy Efficiency Program for Louisville Gas & Electric/Kentucky Utilities.  NEED is honored to be LG&E/KU’s partner for this program by providing regional energy education and energy efficiency programming throughout the LG&E/KU service area.   Kelly Ann saw an opportunity to really take energy education to a higher level by providing curriculum, training, and support to local classroom teachers.  The LG&E/KU NEED team reached thousands of students since its beginning in 2008.   Teachers are treated like rock stars, receiving hands-on NEED kits, training via workshops and classroom visits from the LG&E/KU-NEED team and more.   Kelly Ann is a friend to educators everywhere.  When her teachers see a specific need she works tirelessly to make it happen.   She is thorough and reads and responds to all reports, questions, and inquiries about the program.   Kelly Ann’s program is a shining example of what students and teachers can do when given the tools and support needed to make energy a fundamental theme in their school.   Just looking at the list of exceptional Kentucky award winners shows the depth and success of the LG&E/KU program.  Without Kelly Ann’s passion for education and energy the program would not be possible.  

Congratulations to these great energy educators and wonderful friends of NEED.

Past Winners
1983 Donald Duggan 1994 Donna Robinson 2005 Libby Dudley, Marietta Devine, and Linda Hutton
1984 John Fowler 1995 Shauni Nix 2006 Constance Beatty
1985 Walt Purdy 1996 Carol Wilson 2007 Gerald Harrington and Joanne Spaziano
1986 Leslie Ramsey 1997 Hank Sullivan 2008 Viola Henry and Irene Brown
1987 Janet White Castellini 1998 Marie Lauricella 2009 Linda Lung and Lena Cook and Galen Cobb
1988 Rich Ammentorp 1999 Julie Capobianco 2010 Tom Fry and Ramona Nelson
1989 Ed Dalton 2000 Debby Yerkes 2011 Kevin Galligan and Shelly Baumann and
Becky Grimm and Richard Zuercher
1990 Alan Sowards 2001 Peggy Chamness 2012 John Davies and Greg Guess
1991 Casey Woodard 2002 Anne Allen and Chyrall Dawson 2013 Connie Bond, Diane Lear and Carolyn Wuest
1992 Paul Torcellini 2003 Larry Richards and Mary Lou Green 2014 Wayne Yonkelowitz, Linda Fonner, Paula Barnett
1993 Kathryn McCoy 2004 Scott Sutherland and John Weiner 2015 Robert and Barbara Lazar