SIS Teacher Wins 2022 Frank Zuerner Science Teaching Award

Claire Bernatz was recently recognized by the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers (WSST) for her outstanding work with Science Education in Wisconsin.  WSST recognizes teachers of science annually for their achievements. The Frank Zuerner New Teacher Scholarship is presented annually to recognize teachers with great potential in the field of science. The scholarship is given annually to individuals who are in their first five years of teaching and have demonstrated enthusiasm and passion for science teaching as well as significant potential for future leadership in science education.


Bernatz is teaching seventh grade science in the Shorewood School District. Principal, Mike Joynt says, “It is not often that you work with educators like Ms. Bernatz who are committed to the profession of teaching but also strive to support students academically, socially, and emotionally. To have this mindset as an early educator is even more impressive.”

Bernatz worked to support her students throughout the school year, regardless if they were in-person, or virtual. She has initiated grade-level meetings to discuss student needs and create cross-curricular opportunities for student learning. 

She’s started a Dungeons and Dragons Club and volunteers to teach Band lessons during her prep period, since it is a passion she and her student’s share.  One of her colleagues highlights Bernatz’s ability to create highly engaging and inquiry based science lessons. 

Examples include building and coding robots to simulate Mars rovers and applying different uses of light to phenomena they haven’t explained before, and building a multi-day project of working prototypes that would help solve different drought problems across the United States. Another colleague describes her ability to provide leadership in curriculum and instruction, paving the way for reflective discussions based on assessments amongst the science department.

WSST once again congratulates and thanks Claire Bernatz for all her contributions to science education in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers (WSST) is the largest membership organization in Wisconsin focused on the advancement of science education since 1958. They have a mission of promoting, supporting, and improving science education in the state of Wisconsin by providing leadership, advocacy and programs to enhance the teaching and learning of science. The Awards and Recognition committee is responsible for providing recognition of noteworthy accomplishments by WSST members which support the goals of WSST.