Paczynski, Nelson, Drontle, Spradau

Hermantown, Minn. – Hermantown High School science teacher Donna Drontle was recognized by the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences with the 2022 Sarah L. Tilman Memorial Science Teacher Award at its annual dinner on Thursday, Sept. 29. First-year students nominate a teacher that had a tremendous impact on their academic and personal success. The award comes with $3,500 to help fulfill Dontle’s teaching mission.

“I am honored to accept this award as an educator,” Drontle said as part of her acceptance speech. “Since I have been recognized for the lab activities I have implemented into my classes, I feel I also need to thank the post-secondary institutions, St. Scholastica, Princeton University Molecular Biology and University of Minnesota Driven to Discover Outreach Programs for teachers. Many of the labs I have introduced into my classroom were possible due to their support to science teachers.” 

The award was named in honor of Sarah Tilman, a young, passionate and enthusiastic science teacher who passed away unexpectedly in 2009. She had incredible mentors including her dad, University of Minnesota Regents Professor David Tilman, and her mom, Cathie Tilman.

Drontle was nominated by 2022 Hermantown graduate, Ally Spradau. In her nomination, Spradau said:

Her teaching made me love science, as I could always sense she was truly passionate about the curriculum. She organized labs that were not only educational, but were also fun. They connected students even in time of the pandemic when it seemed impossible. She’d happily show her nerd side as she taught us how to pour agar, streak plates, use lab equipment safely, and more. And this was all only in one of the classes of hers I took. I also took her CIS Anatomy and Physiology where I fell in love with learning about the human body. She taught everything with a passion unlike any other teacher I’ve had, and I could always tell she loved it. However, she wasn’t just a good teacher in the classroom. She also cares about her students.

📷 Pictured from left to right: Tessa Paczynski (’21), Nicole Nelson (’22), Donna Drontle, Ally Spradau (’22)