Lewis Frasier Middle School earth science teacher Cynthia Tupper was surprised to see WTOC news anchor Mike Cihla waiting for her in her classroom Tuesday afternoon.
It turned out, Cihla was there to present a WTOC Top Teacher Award to Tupper.
LFMS Academic Specialist Dr. Annie Welborn nominated Tupper to be recognized.
Welborn wrote about Tupper, “She is one of those ‘science nerds’ that loves her content and gets her students to love it, too. Her excitement and love for earth is contagious and carries over into her instruction.”
Tupper is an advocate for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and is considered to be the school’s “recycling queen” for organizing schoolwide recycling programs.
Welborn described Tupper as an excellent science teacher, who is passionate about science, cares about her kids and is an “all-around top teacher.”
Tupper has worked in the Liberty County School System for seven years and previously in Chatham County for 2 years. She is a native of Pembroke.
“(Teaching) it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, but I didn’t think it was possible because we were very poor and college wasn’t an option,” Tupper said.
“So I grew up, made the decision, went to college and got my degree.”
Tupper believes if a student can think they can do anything. She wants students to think for themselves, have ideas, try new things, learn new things and share their experiences.
Although the attention was on Tupper at the moment she said it’s really all about the students.
“It’s not about me, it’s about them. It’s about them and taking it to the next level,” she said “I have future scientists in this classrooms and I could be a little part of that. It’s about them being something better than they are today.”
It’s sometimes difficult to teach earth science because a lot of topics aren’t tangible, she said, which is why she tries to bring labs into the classroom, do research projects and other activities.
“I try to use as many learning tools as possible so they can grow,” Tupper said.
Tupper always wanted to be a teacher. Her first student was her grandmother. She recalled coming home from kindergarten and teaching her grandmother what she learned in school that day.
“I’ve run a senior center, I worked in an animal clinic, I’ve done other things but I’ve always wanted to be a teacher,” Tupper said. “Mr. Williams (LFMS principal) always asks ‘Did it (teaching) call you or did you call it?’ I think I called it. I made a choice and it’s a good choice.”
Tupper hopes her students gain an appreciation for science, recycling and the environment.
Her advice to new teachers is to not be afraid to ask questions and use experiences from school year to school year to grow.
For Tupper, there is something special about working at Lewis Frasier
“We truly are a family and if I have a problem I can go and ask for help. The door is always open,” she said.
Lewis Frasier Middle School Principal Jermaine Williams said Tupper as an “excellent teacher.”
“She delivers excellent instruction, she sets high but reasonable expectations for her students,” Williams said. “She’s an advocate for those kids. She loves them to death. A constant professional, an excellent colleague to her peers. Right now I have her mentoring a new teacher. She’s willing to do that, willing to share information. She’s just awesome for Lewis Frasier Middle School.”