May 2, 2011

Psychology Teachers Earn APA TOPSS Award for Excellence in Teaching

Award recipients recognized for Commitment to Psychology Education

WASHINGTON—A tradition of honoring the best and brightest in the teaching of psychological science continues, as the American Psychological Association’s Committee of Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS) presented three high school teachers in April with the prominent APA TOPSS Excellence in Teaching Award.

Nancy Diehl, PhD of Hong Kong International School in Tai Tam, Hong Kong, Sheryl Freedman, MA, of Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Md., and Melissa J. Kennedy, PhD, of Holy Names Academy in Seattle, Wash., won awards for their dynamic teaching and commitment to the advancement of psychology.

“The winners stood out for their passion and creativity, and for spreading psychology as far and wide as possible,” said TOPSS Chair Jeanne Blakeslee. “These teachers are on the frontline of the public’s education of psychology, which is so valuable.”

Since 2000, TOPSS has presented these annual awards, in which students and peers nominate individual teachers. Teachers submitted letters of reference, a personal statement and an overview of a psychology-related lesson plan and examples of activities, demonstrations or programs related to the topic. A TOPSS subcommittee chose the winners based on the teacher’s professionalism, commitment to academic excellence, passion for teaching and leadership in the field.

“The psychology lessons that the winners submitted were broad and deep, scientific, and student-centered,” Blakeslee said. “The winners’ professional activities were extraordinary and their recommendations glowed with enthusiasm.”

In addition to students, teachers have also taught colleagues and students’ parents about psychology through assemblies, conventions and parent-teacher nights, according to Blakeslee. 

Winners receive a framed certificate, an engraved award, cash prize of $300, a copy of the High School Psychology Video Toolkit DVD and a free TOPSS membership renewal for the 2012 membership year. The Video Toolkit DVD was donated by Worth Publishers.

TOPSS, through the APA Education Directorate, offers teaching materials, professional development opportunities, a speakers’ bureau, the Psychology Teacher Network quarterly newsletter, National Standards for High School Psychology Curricula, and programs for high school psychology teachers and students. There are approximately 1,600 APA high school teacher affiliates. Psychology continues to be a popular high school course. In 2010, approximately 178,000 students took the Advanced Placement (AP) psychology exam and over 13,000 students took the International Baccalaureate (IB) psychology exam. Regular psychology courses are also taught at the high school level.

TOPSS mission is to promote introductory and advanced high school psychology; to meet curricular needs of secondary school teachers; and to provide opportunities for high school students to be recognized and rewarded for their academic excellence. Learn more about TOPSS

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 154,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare