John Underwood Named East Baton Rouge Teacher of the Year

School of Education PhD student and biology teacher earns top honor at Baton Rouge Magnet High School

John Underwood leads his life, students, and research with one objective: “Walk toward academic excellence through logical strategies, but add your own unique skills and personality to the mix for the best possible education.

Underwood, a candidate in the CHSE School of Education (SOE) for a PhD in Educational Research, is a biology teacher at Baton Rouge Magnet High School (BRHS) who believes in learning through application.

“By incorporating more first-hand learning, we are no longer simply teaching science,” Underwood said. “We are preparing students to do and become aware of science.”

Underwood’s academic activities don’t stop at teaching: He is also the adviser for the school’s Key Club, Deca Club, Environmental Club, Science Olympiad, Biology Olympiad, and Science Bowl Team.

He’s active in professional development alongside his own doctoral research and has conducted three peer training workshops in project based instruction, physics by inquiry, and art/technology cross-curricular collaborations.

After the floods in August 2016, Underwood went to work writing grants to help fund classroom needs. Through his efforts, BRHS received more than $7,000 in grants from local businesses and nonprofits including Cox Communications, the Society of Petroleum Engineers, McFarland Comics, the LSU Cane Center, and more. These grants helped fund lab fees and teacher classrooms in the science department and they fully funded the Science Olympiad team for the year.

As a full-time teacher and also a graduate student, Underwood said he incorporates his own student experiences into his curriculum for his BRHS students.

“I have been amazed at the synthesis of what I am learning and what I am teaching to my students,” he said. “Many great ideas have started with the simple question, ‘What is one thing that I am curious about or want to change in my classroom?’”

About SOE
The LSU School of Education (SOE) offers graduate and undergraduate programs in Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership and Research, and Counseling, including two completely online master’s programs. SOE offers a range of professional and academic degree programs that focus on preparing students for careers in education, research, policy formation and implementation, as well as program oversight. The School’s mission is to prepare P-12 educational professionals to be leaders, practitioners, and scholars knowledgeable in contemporary educational issues. SOE is part of the College of Human Sciences & Education.  

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About CHSE

The College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE) is a nationally accredited division of Louisiana State University. The college is comprised of the School of Education, the School of Leadership & Human Resource Development, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Library & Information Science, the School of Social Work, and the University Laboratory School. These combined schools offer 8 undergraduate degree programs, 18 graduate programs, and 7 online graduate degree programs, enrolling more than 2,020 undergraduate and 879 graduate students. The College is committed to achieving the highest standards in teaching, research, and service and is committed to improving quality of life across the lifespan.

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