As physicians, epidemiologists, and health care workers lead the fight against a global pandemic, the Texas Medical Association (TMA) named nine Texas science teachers winners of its 2020 Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching.

One of the winners was local Cynthia Hopkins from Kaffie Middle School, here in Corpus Christi.

This program year marks the 30th anniversary of the awards, designed to motivate teachers to inspire future doctors and scientists.

TMA awards teachers at the elementary, middle, and high school levels for playing an instrumental role in stirring students’ interest and excitement in science, with the hope they’ll enter the medical field.

Teachers receive cash prizes, and their schools receive cash resource grants to enhance their science program. Since the awards began in 1990, TMA has awarded more than $607,000 to 274 exemplary science teachers across Texas.

Among this year’s winners, physicians named an overall winner, which confers an additional cash award.

Dr. Hopkins teaches seventh- and eighth-grade science at Kaffie Middle School in Corpus Christi. She aims to ignite a passion in her students to become lifelong learners. She challenges her students, several of whom have disabilities, to learn from each other.

Dr. Hopkins uses scientific modeling, coding, collaborative interaction, and other real-world methods to help her students grasp concepts. She created the school’s robotics clubs, so popular many students consider them their “second home.” Dr. Hopkins’ development of the school science fair program led to historic achievements for some of her students. A few competitors captured their division at the Texas State Science

Fair – the first such win ever for the school or its district. One student she mentored into high school went on to become a finalist in the international science fair competition.

“Her classroom is engaging, and the way she approaches topics makes a difference in both the way students learn and behave. She is innovative,” said fellow teacher Michele Lane-Heidari.