- Inspiring teacher
- Life sciences
- National teaching award
How does Elton John’s high kick relate to biology and G proteins? Dr. Linda Tanini, a Chelmsford High School biology/biotechnology teacher and 2022 recipient of the Massachusetts Outstanding Biology Teacher Award, will tell you, and it just may help you remember what G proteins are longer than you might expect.
CHS sophomore Stella Lamson, 15, said the visual of John’s frenetic dance moves is one of the many ways Tanini relates pop culture and music to science.
G proteins, also known as guanine nucleotide-binding proteins, are a family of proteins that act as molecular switches inside cells and are involved in transmitting signals from a variety of stimuli outside a cell to its interior. Lamson said they transmit those signals with that “kick” Tanini used as a visual.
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In education for the past 16 years, with a decade of teaching at Chelmsford High School under her belt, she will be honored at the NABT Professional Development Conference in Indianapolis this autumn.
“My role as a biology teacher is more than just teaching concepts,” Tanini said. “I use current skills and techniques to shape my instruction so my students will be workforce-ready when leaving my classroom. For me, it isn’t important if every student remembers every detail of biology. It is most important that every student experiences a part of all the different pathways that are available to them to be successful in their lives.”
Candidates are judged upon teaching ability and experience, cooperativeness in their school and community, and student-teacher relationships, according to the NABT.
“This award reflects Dr. Tanini’s commitment to her students, to student-centered and inquiry-based learning, her training, and content knowledge, and her professionalism, all of which exemplify what it means to be an outstanding biology teacher,” Don Pinkerton, Massachusetts Outstanding Biology Teacher Award director said in a recent announcement. “Such accomplishments and awards should make not only Chelmsford Public Schools, but the entire Commonwealth, proud. Linda is a priceless member of the education community.”
Tanini earned her undergraduate degree in biology from UMass Lowell in 1998 and a Ph.D. in molecular biology and genetics from Boston College in 2006. She received her M.Ed. degree in secondary education from BC in 2007.
Lamson is currently enrolled in Tanini’s Advanced Placement biology course and celebrated the announcement with her class and teacher in early June.
Her AP class was part of the search for the outstanding teacher award when members of the NABT filmed a segment of instruction where Tanini guided students through drawing concepts on their lab benches.
“She is one of my favorite science teachers,” Lamson said.
She added Tanini is her inspiration for looking into science majors in the coming years: “(She) taught me the fun side of biology.”
Tanini is a CHS alumna herself and had a hand in the procurement of the school’s newest addition to the science department: the Life Sciences Pathway with coursework in biology, biotechnology, environmental science, and environmental studies.
According to the school’s website, “Life sciences include a broad range of industries including biomedicine, pharmaceuticals, biophysics, neuroscience, cell biology, biotechnology, and environmental sciences. Students at Chelmsford High School have the option of pursuing a designated ‘lane’ within the Life Science Pathway, where they can choose environmental technology or biotechnology. These two options will help students prepare for industry-recognized credentials relevant to their senior internship.”
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Chelmsford Public Schools K-12 Science Coordinator Jon Morris reflected on Tanini’s achievements and praised her for her dedication to students and collaborative work.
“We are overly thrilled for [Tanini] to receive this honor,” Morris said. “Everything is student-centered, and every conversation puts students first.”