Wingman: AFA Teacher of the Year

Oct. 9, 2018

Beth Leavitt is AFA’s National Teacher of the Year.?





All of these words describe the tools used by Beth Leavitt of Wade Hampton High School, Greenville, S.C., who has been named the 2018 AFA National Teacher of the Year (TOY) by the Air Force Association (AFA) and Rolls-Royce.

As part of AFA’s mission to encourage aerospace education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, the TOY program ensures America’s aerospace excellence by supporting teachers who carry out that mission in the classroom.


Beth Leavitt has been a physical science, chemistry, astronomy, engineering, and physics teacher at Wade Hampton High School in Greenville, S.C., since 1999. She holds a degree in the sciences and has previously worked as an environmental chemist for 12 years. Leavitt is currently lead of the Professional Learning Community in Physics and is a workshop presenter in her school district, state, and across the nation for the High Schools That Work program and also the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).


Leavitt collaborated with Buzz Aldrin’s Share Space Foundation to bring Giant Mars Maps to her school district and beyond, and she has helped develop the curriculum to accompany these interactive maps. Additionally, she co-wrote physical science standards and presented a videotaped lesson on the solar eclipse for her school district. She is the director of FIRST Robotics Team 283, coordinating community engagement and developing and implementing summer engineering camps at Greenville Tech and Sevier Middle School.


“The reason I engage in many after-school robotics programs is that these ‘extended learning’ environments are where students define a problem and then set about locating, selecting, organizing, presenting, and finally solving a problem,” said Leavitt. “For a lifelong learner, it is an essential strategy. Being able to set parameters for the scope of a project, as well as setting and sticking to a time line for the completion of a project, is an imperative skill to ensure learning continues throughout a lifetime.”


Leavitt has garnered grants totaling $32,000 to conduct enrichment STEM programs and is a member and/or awardee of numerous national organizations, including American Modeling Teachers Association, iMAGINE Upstate STEMfest Board, NASA Networks of Educator Astronaut Teachers, American Vacuum Symposium Teacher Fellows, the Fulbright Memorial Teacher Award to Japan, and National Space Club’s 2017 Educator of the Year, among others.