When carpal tunnel syndrome cut short Vickie Logan’s dental hygiene career in 1986, the Little Rock University alumna chose to go back to school and become an educator. The decision paid off for Logan, as she is one of two teachers in Arkansas to receive the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
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Logan, who also earned her master’s and doctorate degrees from UALR, teaches Advanced Placement biology at Parkview Arts/Science Magnet High School in Little Rock, where she has been since 2003.
When she was in high school, Logan elected to go to college close to home so that she could continue teaching dance class at Joel’s House of Dance, even though she received full-ride scholarships to several universities. She attended Little Rock University and got pre-dental training before getting a degree in dental hygiene from the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry in Memphis.
She began working at a periodontal practice in Little Rock in the late ’60s, and got her bachelor’s of science degree in biology at UAMS. She also taught a once-a-week class at the UAMS campus.
However, a disability forced her to give up her dental hygienist job mid-career. So she returned to her alma mater, by that time called the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She received a master’s in secondary education and became the first student in the new doctorate of education program.
At first, Logan said the carpal tunnel kept her from writing any more than a few minutes at a time. She recorded her classes and often took oral exams.
“UALR has always been innovative in meeting the needs of non-traditional students,” Logan said. “That pretty much describes me – started going to college while in high school, often attended while working full time and caring for two small children, and attended while seriously disabled.”
Logan was able to parlay her health career into a successful one in science education. Upon getting her degrees, Logan worked as an administrator and curriculum specialist for the Little Rock School District, then dean of academics at the Arkansas School for Math and Sciences in Hot Springs, and eventually became the superintendent of the Bryant School District.
Her emphasis on science is evident throughout, from helping to revamp the science fair at Fuller Junior High to bringing much-needed technology to the classrooms at J.A. Fair High School. As chairman of the science department at Parkview, she coordinates the science symposium and teaches AP-level biology classes.
Her leadership already has earned her several accolades, including the 2009 Siemens Award for Advanced Placement and the AGATE Award. She has been honored for her contributions to education in Arkansas by three governors: Frank White, Bill Clinton, and Mike Huckabee.
The Presidential Award is the highest honor given to teachers of mathematics and science. Honorees are selected by a panel of scientists, mathematicians, and educators. This year, 97 teachers received the award.
As a recipient of this latest honor, Logan will receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation. She and Stephanie Muckelberg of the Bald Knob School District will attend an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.