Dallas Educator Awarded With O'Donnell Texas AP(R) Teacher of the Year

Prestigious Honor Includes $30,000 Cash Prize

Jan 07, 2010, 15:55 ET from Communities Foundation of Texas

DALLAS, Jan. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Christopher Jon Bruhn, the Advanced Placement (AP®) Science Lead Teacher for physics and chemistry at the Dallas Independent School District (DISD), has been named the recipient of the second annual O'Donnell Texas AP® Teacher Award for his outstanding record in helping students master college-level work through rigorous AP courses in high school. Mr. Bruhn received a $30,000 cash prize - one of the largest ever given to an educator - at a luncheon held in San Antonio on January 7, at The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas' (TAMEST) annual membership conference. Award finalists Dr. Terry Eder and Cheryl Fuentes-Wagner, educators from Plano and Houston, respectively, received $5,000.

The cash prizes are from the O'Donnell Texas AP® Teacher Award Fund at Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT), with support for the program provided through the Morton H. Meyerson Family Tzedakah Fund. The Award is presented annually through CFT to one AP teacher in a Texas public high school who has made remarkable contributions to the teaching profession. In addition to recognizing teachers, this award serves as a tribute to Peter and Edith O'Donnell, whose Dallas-based foundation has long supported improving education in Texas.

"The field of applicants for the O'Donnell Texas AP® Teacher of the Year Award contained a strong group of educators," said Mort Meyerson, chairman and CEO of 2M Companies and former president of EDS. "When we sat down to evaluate our finalists, we knew this would not be an easy feat given their astonishing careers. We wanted to recognize all of their achievements, and thank them for their contributions to education and society."

"It is an honor to collaborate with Mort Meyerson on the O'Donnell Texas AP® Teacher Award," said Brent Christopher, president and CEO of CFT. "The remarkable contributions from our AP teachers not only improve the education system - but literally change lives. We are proud to recognize these teachers, the O'Donnell's, and the importance of the AP program."

Peter O'Donnell, Jr. believes that the driving force behind the success of the AP program is outstanding AP teachers who instill in their students the confidence to learn the demanding standards of AP curricula. "Daily, and with their depth of knowledge and passion, these teachers are improving the way we educate our young people. They exemplify the high level of excellence that can be achieved in public education," said O'Donnell.

The College Board's AP program is one of the brightest lights in American high schools, preparing students for success in higher education. Students who earn qualifying scores on the national AP exams earn credit at over 2,300 U.S. colleges and universities. Over the past nine years in Texas, the number of students passing AP exams in math and science increased by 84%, from just under 11,000 to nearly 20,000.

The Winner and Finalists

Chris Bruhn is the AP Science Lead Teacher for physics and chemistry for the DISD, providing training and assistance to AP Physics and AP Chemistry teachers at 14 high schools. He received his BS in Aerospace Engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology and worked at Bell Helicopter before beginning his career in education at L.D. Bell High School in Hurst, Texas. Chris built the physics program from a beginning enrollment of 80 to more than 240 students. During the past eight years, the number of students scoring a "3" or better on AP Physics and AP Chemistry exams in DISD has risen from 100 to a high of 244. Chris also serves as the program facilitator for the Women of TI Girls Physics Summer Camp, which seeks to increase the number of girls entering AP Physics and careers in science. His 16 years of teaching has had a lasting impact on his students, many of whom have pursued a college degree in science and engineering.

Dr. Terry Eder teaches Beginning and Advanced Placement Music Theory at Plano Senior High School and has more than 30 years of experience as a choral conductor and music teacher at the college and secondary levels. Over the past 12 years, 80-85 percent of his students have received qualifying scores of 3, 4, or 5 on the AP Music Theory exam. Terry also serves as a College Board consultant where he developed a workshop on Vertical Teams in Music Theory and has written an article on strategies for the sight singing portion of the AP exam.

Cheryl Fuentes-Wagner is an AP Spanish teacher at Bush High School in the Fort Bend Independent School District (FBISD) outside of Houston. She received her MA in Spanish Translation at the University of Northern Iowa and has been teaching nearly 35 years at various levels from elementary school through college. Active in the education community, she participates in professional organizations, offering workshops and sessions at local, state, regional, national and international conferences, as well as serving on the AP Spanish Test Development Committee, the College Board Best Practices Commission, and as an AP exam reader.

About the O'Donnell Foundation

Edith and Peter O'Donnell, Jr. established the O'Donnell Foundation in 1957 to focus on improving education in Texas. The Foundation develops and funds model programs designed to strengthen math, engineering, science and arts education. One such program is the Advanced Placement Incentive Program, which has led to a dramatic increase in the number of high school students, especially minorities, passing college-level courses in mathematics, science and English. It has been so successful in Texas that the Rising Above the Gathering Storm report released by the National Academies in 2006 recommended it for replication, and the National Math and Science Initiative is implementing the incentive program in six states.

About Communities Foundation of Texas

Since its founding in 1953, Communities Foundation of Texas has grown to become one of the nation's largest community foundations. Through its work, the foundation enhances the experience and impact of charitable giving. It serves as a hub for collaboration between donors, nonprofits and other funding organizations to stimulate creative solutions to key community challenges. This is accomplished through a variety of donor-advised, designated and discretionary funds. The foundation professionally manages almost 900 component funds and has awarded over $1 billion in charitable grants.

SOURCE Communities Foundation of Texas