Donna Gradel named BAHS Teacher of the Year

Science teacher Donna Gradel was awarded the title of Broken Arrow High School’s Teacher of the Year on Nov. 14.

Science Teacher Donna Gradel was named BAHS Teacher of the Year during a ceremony held Oct. 14.

Gradel has been teaching for 24 years and has a passion for teaching. Her students find her to be   inspirational and helpful, as do her fellow staff members.

When the announcement was made that Gradel had won she was so overcome by emotion that a few tears came to her eyes.

“I just really have the best peers,” said Gradel.

One of the many things that makes Gradel stand out as a teacher and colleague is her passion to help orphans in the Tharaka region of Kenya. The passion started when she went on a medical mission trip in 2004.

Gradel’s passion developed into much more when she decided to take a group of students to build an aquaponics system at an orphanage in Kenya in the summer of 2013. The aquaponics system is a way to combine the use of fish and plants to create a greater growth of both components. The student group went to Kenya, built the system and got to see the life of the orphans first hand.

After the aquaponics project was completed Gradel still wanted to help and came up with a new project. She has an Inventeam through MIT collaborating with 9 high school students of all grades trying to produce a system that will make a low-cost sustainable fish food to feed the tilapia in a long fish pond at the same orphanage as the aquaponics system.

The system will help feed the fish with a higher protein food which will increase fish growth. This is important because of the protein deficiencies in the orphans.

“Most children in the area where the orphanage is located are protein deficient,” said Gradel. “World Health Organization lists that area of having a 56% protein deficiency in children.”

All the students on the team respect and appreciate Gradel for all her hard work and dedication.

“Donna Gradel is the epitome of a perfect teacher,” said Addi Wimpee. “She is zealously devoted to her subject and to her students. She loves and cares for everyone who walks through her door. Her love for the environment is also very inspirational.”

Gradel has shown a true passion to help the people of Africa and continues to come up with original ways to help the area.

Gradel will also be entered as a contestant for Broken Arrow Teacher of the Year, which will be announced later this semester.