Tiffany Oliver gets the seal of approval

PAEMST’s awardee is none other than IB Bio teacher, Tiffany Oliver.


Photo Meena Vasquez

Tiffany Oliver shows off her PAEMST award. She recently won these awards in Washington D.C.

Meena Vasquez, Staff Writer

Tiffany Oliver has been teaching all forms of biology there is at Robinson High School, such as standard Biology, Biology honors and AP Biology. Currently, she is teaching HL Biology for IB juniors and seniors. Her outstanding teaching was recognized three weeks ago by the PAEMST (Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching), congratulating her on winning the award for science.

Oliver has been at Robinson for 17 years. For a while, she had been a part of the traditional program. After her first year, IB was introduced into the school and when a former IB biology teacher left their position, Robinson asked Oliver to consider being a part of the IB program.

”I thought about [joining IB], and I researched it and I said yes,” Oliver said.

Her favorite part about teaching is the connection with students. More specifically, when students graduate and come back to Oliver to tell her about their aspiring STEM career.

”[I love] when students come back and tell me how great they’re doing in college, what great memories they have in the class, or they’re exploring a STEM career because they learned something in my class they didn’t expect to,” Oliver said.

However, Oliver didn’t think she would be teaching at first. She was (and still is) a research scientist, having her masters in Biology. Oliver works at a research lab at USF, much like IB SL Biology/Pre-IB Biology teacher Sarah Sanford.

”Ms. Sanford and I have a lot of similarities because we’re both scientists who happen to love science so much that we enjoy teaching  because we love to communicate how great science is to students…we didn’t learn science by learning through teaching, we know science because we live science, we do science,” Oliver said.

While Sanford focuses more on environmental science, Oliver is more of a marine biology scientist. She especially loves working with echinoderm and brittle stars.

Oliver’s teaching has been recognized by the PAEMST, the highest award to be given to a STEM teacher in the U.S. In 2017, Oliver was nominated for the award by a co-worker. She then had to apply for the award and she was debating either to give it her all or not bother going through the process. She chose the first option and went through the application process.

The application process was a 45 minute unedited video, recording one of Oliver’s classes. She then had to do a 20-25 page reflection of what she could do better, how STEM education can be improved in the U.S. and how her teaching has changed overtime.

Then 3 weeks ago, Oliver got a phone call congratulating her about being the PAEMST awardee. She was told that  she was being flown to Washington DC for recognition activities, a visit to the White House and NSF (National Science Foundation). But Oliver wasn’t allowed to tell anybody until she was already in DC.

Students and teachers alike are excited for Ms. Oliver, saying her class makes biology exciting.

”The class is fun, and Ms. Oliver is nice” Allysa Nobeza (’21) said.

Another one of her HL bio students had good things to say about Oliver as well.

”I really like her class, it’s one of my favorite classes. She makes things entertaining to learn,” Ella Mendelowitz (’21) said.

Sanford, as previously mentioned, told newspaper how Oliver influences her.

”She is one of the people who shows me how to be a better teacher everyday. We both come from a science background, instead of an education background. And in fact, we came from the same bio department at USF,” Sarah Sanford said.