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Peggy Bertrand with Bob Kesling

2019 Educators Hall of Honor Inducts Peggy Bertrand

Peggy was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and had early ambitions to be an artist or a musician but ultimately decided to seek out an academic career in the sciences.  She earned her Bachelor’s of Science Degree at Southeastern Louisiana University majoring in Chemistry with concentrations in physics, mathematics, and biology then continued her education at Florida State University where she earned her PhD in Chemistry with a research focus on physical and inorganic chemistry.

Peggy used her degrees after college when she secured a position as a research chemist at Shell Development Company in Houston, Texas.  While there, she discovered she enjoyed writing software for the lab computerized equipment so began programming more and more and eventually quit her job as a chemist and became a software entrepreneur.  This career was a good one and lasted fifteen years but a calling to be a teacher entered her life and Peggy discovered the University of Tennessee Lyndhurst Program in the late nineties.  After some intense classroom coursework and a one-year long internship, she was certified to teach in a secondary school setting in the areas of physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics.  Due to excelling in this program, Peggy was hired by Oak Ridge High School and taught these subjects for fourteen years.  While at Oak Ridge, a highlight of her career was when Peggy and her students secured a highly sought after Lemelson – M. I. T. grant.  The subject of the project was to build a high-tech water purification system used in creek beds.  After presenting at M. I. T. both Peggy and the students were very surprised to be invited by President Obama to the first ever White House Science Fair.

Feeling the call to move on from the high-school setting, Peggy spent the last five years of her career at the University of Tennessee as a master teacher in the VolsTeach program within the Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education.  This accelerated program for future math and science educators grooms students through field experiences, lesson planning and delivery, and apprentice teaching.

Beyond the classroom, Peggy has consulted and served on committees at the state, regional, and international level related to program review panels, workshops, advanced placement institutes, and standards applying to career and college readiness.  She has secured multiple five-figure grants, has a lengthy publication and presentation history, and is affiliated with several national associations.

While a college student, Peggy was the recipient of the President’s Medal for top graduate in the College of Science and Technology at Southeastern Louisiana University and while at Oak Ridge High School, she was honored for having the most outstanding high school physics program by the University of Tennessee Physics Department.  She was also recognized as Outstanding High School Physics teacher by the American Association of Physics Teachers, received the Distinguished Science Educator award from the Tennessee Academy of Science, received a Siemens Foundation Award for Advanced Placement Teaching, and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching from the National Science Foundation.