Alumni News

Heather Sandberg-Fehr (M.A.T. ’01) receives statewide award for excellence in teaching AP biology

Photo of Heather Sandberg-Fehr

Heather Sandberg-Fehr


Photo of banner

Heather Sandberg-Fehr was recently selected as the recipient of the Siemens AP College Board award for the state of Virginia. She was recognized for her excellence in teaching AP biology at Centreville High School in Clifton, Va. The Siemens AP College Board award recognizes Advanced Placement teachers in mathematics, science and technology for exemplary and enthusiastic teaching both inside and outside the classroom.

The Siemens AP College Board award is given to one AP mathematics, science or technology teacher from each of the 50 states. Winners of the award receive a $1,000 grant for their school that can be put toward mathematics, science or technology education. Sandberg-Fehr plans on using the money to purchase biotechnology tools, which are lacking in the department. One of the statewide winners will be selected as the Siemens National AP Teacher of the Year and will receive a $5,000 grant for his or her school.

Teachers from the mathematics and science department of Centreville High School chose to nominate Sandberg-Fehr for the award because of her patience and dedication in the classroom. In a nomination letter for Sandberg-Fehr, Susan Reese, a fellow teacher, shared comments from her students. They described their teacher as a committed, passionate and intelligent teacher who encourages her students with hands-on learning activities that are technologically advanced. The students said that she is dedicated to their success, as evidenced by her willingness to come to school before and after the school day to answer their questions and provide tutoring.

Sandberg-Fehr is the school’s lead biology teacher, which allows her to collaborate with and encourage the 11 other biology teachers at the school. Reese stated in her nomination letter, “Everyone relies on Heather’s energy, dedication and knowledge; she can always be tapped whenever any peer requires assistance.”

Sandberg-Fehr explains her teaching philosophy as a three-step process. First, she believes that all students can achieve at high levels in AP biology. Second, she expects students to work to the level that she sets for them. And third, she teaches students as close to the college level as possible. By applying these three principles, Sandberg-Fehr encourages and supports her students to achieve at high levels. 

One student expressed admiration and respect for Sandberg-Fehr by stating, “Mrs. Fehr is one of the brightest, most dedicated, and certainly the most deserving of teachers I have ever come across. She has not only helped me intellectually, but has helped me mature and grow in my character to develop such qualities as persistence and diligence.”

Another student stated, “She is one of the best teachers anyone could hope for, and though no degree of accolade could truly match her character as a teacher, I hope to show my gratefulness and thanks to her in any way possible.”

Sandberg-Fehr’s goals for the future are to continue to improve her teaching style and communication with students as well as to develop students’ interest in science. She states, “My dream would be that each student finds a career in the sciences, but even if that doesn’t happen I still want them to discover the love of science and biology that I have. I hope they will look back on the class with a smile.”