"Tabitha has a true heart for the success of her students, and we are very grateful for her service. She is one of the many reasons that Ascension is a great place to go to school!"

Dutchtown High School (DTHS) chemistry teacher Tabitha Vu was selected Outstanding High School Chemistry Teacher of the Year by the Baton Rouge section of the American Chemical Society (ACS). She received an award at the Coates Award Banquet located at Ashley Manor on May 9.

“Tabitha is an outstanding teacher and very deserving of this recognition. Her commitment to excellence is valued and recognized by all those that know her whether that be her students or her colleagues," said Ascension Public Schools Superintendent David Alexander. "Tabitha has a true heart for the success of her students, and we are very grateful for her service. She is one of the many reasons that Ascension is a great place to go to school!"

Vu currently teaches juniors and seniors at Dutchtown High School, where she has taught for nearly 13 years in courses such as chemistry, AP chemistry, physical science, and environmental science. She was also recognized in October 2017 as one of five finalists for the 2017 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“At the end of the day I have to be thankful for being in such a great parish,” Vu said. “Being born and raised here as a student and then a teacher, I am thankful for those who have made it possible for me to progress in education.”

A native of Prairieville, Vu grew up with a love for chemistry. While a student at East Ascension High School (EAHS), she met a unique group of science mentors: Jill Holdridge and Michael “Brendan” Simoneaux.

Vu gives lots of credit to Simoneaux for her chemistry career. “He was my high school AP Chemistry teacher at East Ascension High, and then we became colleagues at Dutchtown High. He is a brilliant science mind who has shared so much of his knowledge and expertise on inquiry based science teaching and integrating exploratorium style activities in my lessons. He has been an incredible mentor!”

She is a Louisiana State University alumna with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education with a focus on chemistry. She began her education career at the newly opened DTHS in 2003 teaching environmental science, physical science, and chemistry classes under another mentor, Bobbie Keller.

Vu returned to LSU to earn a master’s degree in educational leadership. In 2005, she began teaching only chemistry classes alongside her former teacher, Simoneaux, who was a 2015 PAEMST national honoree. Simoneaux encouraged Vu to pursue both National Board Certification and PAEMST.

She developed her own Module System in fall of 2015 as an individualized and structured learning approach which was later adopted by the entire Chemistry department at DTHS. Vu said that the Chem Demo Program at LSU has a big involvement in this award because it has allowed her own students to interact with college students and watch demonstrations in the classroom.

Vu told some of her current students about the honor, and they responded with excitement and appreciation. “It’s sweet to hear them say, ‘Of course you got that award; you’re awesome!’” Vu said.

Contributed by Ascension Public Schools