During a ceremony Wednesday evening, May 4, the Santa Fe Institute awarded Natalie Martino, an earth science teacher at the Mandela International Magnet School, the Institute's 2016 Prize for Outstanding Teacher.

Martino joined 13 Santa Fe-area high school seniors in receiving SFI’s High School Prize for Scientific Excellence. The prize is awarded each year to one local science teacher and one outstanding senior from each of Santa Fe’s high schools.

"Receiving this award inspires me to further include elements of complexity science within my classes,” Martino says. “Complexity is the science course I wish I’d had in high school, and SFI gives our community of students and teachers the great gift of building bridges with world-renowned scientists and mathematicians. It is my hope that SFI continually partners with Santa Fe Public Schools, charter schools, and private schools to help the next generation of young scientists and mathematicians realize their full potential."

An International Baccalaureate (IB) teacher, Martino strives to connect her classroom to local and global communities as she looks for ways to make science relevant to daily life. Her students have analyzed their kilowatt usage over the course of a year, collected Santa Fe watershed data as citizen scientists, held technology drives to mitigate the impact of e-waste in China, and even simulated a UN climate conference. 

Mandela School Principal Tony Gerlicz, who nominated Martino for the award, commended her unique and creative approach to teaching, as well as the high academic standards she sets for students.

Martino currently teaches 9th grade earth science and coordinates the Mandela School’s IB Middle Years Programme. She has also taught 7th grade life science and 8th grade physical science. 

More about the 13 winning high school students here

More about the award here