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Shawndra Fordham of RCHS receives Apple Award

RCHS Principal Andy Abner with Apple award winner Shawndra Fordham.

By Lisa Nicklanovich; photo courtesy of Julie Lamb

Shawndra Fordham, science teacher at Rock Canyon High School (RCHS), is glad her husband kept insisting she become a teacher. She was working for the National Park Service and missing the interaction with people when her husband encouraged her to volunteer in the schools. The rest is history, or in this case, bio technology. Fordham changed careers and became a science teacher at RCHS when the school opened in 2003. Fordham’s breakthrough work with video conferencing in the bio technology lab at RCHS earned her the Apple award for secondary teacher of the year.

More than 9,000 Douglas County teachers and employees were nominated for an Apple award. Each school chose an Apple representative, then finalists and award winners were announced at the Apple awards celebration on February 23 at the Sheraton in downtown Denver. The Apple awards, which is the primary fundraiser for the Douglas County Educational Foundation (DCEF), provides the opportunity to recognize and celebrate innovative teachers, as well as support staff, administrators and the community.

Fordham’s bio technology class at RCHS is now a year-long dual credit course and is in high demand. Using technology such as iPads, bought with a grant, and students’ phones, she enables video conferencing between world renowned researchers and her students. Fordham said, “Having a live conversation with a leading edge breast cancer researcher opened up the students’ minds to real-life applications of their projects. I would love to see my students doing this research in the future.”

Fordham’s goal as a teacher is to “help kids explore different career options and see the many different ways they can incorporate their interests.” She explains that while bio technology is a fast growing job area, many students don’t realize they can explore careers that combine their interest in science, with say, their interest in business or law. “There’s a real need for patent lawyers and business people who can work in the bio tech arena, taking a product from inception to market.”

It’s clear Fordham’s passion is being passed on to her students; 75 percent of her students said they want to go into the bio tech field. Congratulations to Shawndra Fordham!

To see all the Apple award nominees and winners, go to



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