Every organization has one, that person who embodies the very soul of its mission. As the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance rings in the New Year, we will be doing so as this organizational ‘light’ begins a new chapter in her life; that of retirement!
For so many of us in Maine and beyond it’s hard to think back to a time when Joyce Tugel wasn’t part of the science education landscape. Joyce’s connection with the organization began years ago, as a frequent participant in MMSA’s professional development programming while teaching high school chemistry and physical science at Marshwood High School. After taking a position at the TERC Eisenhower Regional Alliance as a science professional development specialist, Joyce began collaborating with MMSA, initially as an outside consultant for specific projects until joining our staff in 2005. During her time at MMSA she was also co-author of two books in the NSTA Press Uncovering Student Ideas in Science series.
While at MMSA, Joyce has coached and mentored new and veteran teachers; helped schools and districts untangle the ‘new standards’ as they work through the curriculum design and instructional planning process; and deepened teachers’ understanding of the power of formative assessment. Through her involvement in the Maine Governor’s Academy and similar initiatives, Joyce has helped ‘grow’ countless emerging leaders, sharing her knowledge and wisdom artfully. Her favorite mantras ‘work smarter not harder’ and ‘keep it simple scientists’ speak to her ability to keep us grounded and laser focused on what is of essential importance as we proceed in the sometimes-overwhelming task of educating youth. She’s been beside us, helping us build our toolkits, carefully and purposefully filling them with innovative, proven strategies and effective approaches to STEM learning. She’s taught us to be reflective, to stay true and do what is best for engaging and inspiring kids.
Through the years there have been several times when unfortunate circumstances have come up at the last minute and Joyce has jumped in, without hesitation and taken the lead as a key note, event emcee and last minute out of state conference speaker. Laurie Larsen recalls “I was able to be present at the STEM Conference when Joyce stepped in on the spot and she did a tremendous job throughout the event. She did so graciously and thoroughly. She had a calming presence, took quick notes and delivered.”
We at MMSA find ourselves knowing Joyce not only as an incredible leader and skilled STEM educator but also as dear colleague and friend. We look forward to being greeted with Joyce’s warm smile, sincere voice of reason, and sound advice. She is ‘that person’ who always has time to listen, offer that ‘just in time nudge’ to help us find our way; she’s our ‘go to’ emcee, our warm and welcoming first -class ultra professional who challenges us to dig deep and do our best.
Please join us in celebrating, honoring and thanking our colleague, mentor, teacher and friend as she embarks on the next great adventure in her life, one which we’re certain will be filled with the laughter of her grandchildren, travels to far off lands, and time relishing in life’s simple pleasures.