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home : hope-area news : education July 26, 2017

6/19/2017 4:29:00 AM
Science teacher leaving but school hopes to keep her coaching
Hauser's 2016 Science Olympiad team
Hauser's 2016 Science Olympiad team

By Paul Minnis
For HSJ Online

A beloved science teacher is saying goodbye to Hauser Sr. High School.

Deborah Gaff, who joined the school system in 2015, gained a measure of respect in a short time for inspiring middle and high school students to fantastic performances in extracurricular, scholarly competitions like the Science Olympiad and Verizon Innovative App Challenge. She resigned her teaching job earlier this month to accept a full-time position with the Bartholomew County Library, and yet she has expressed a willingness to continue with the extracurricular agenda that put Hauser on the map.

"I was glad to hear she wants to stay connected in some capacity," Superintendent Shawn Price said. "The Science Olympiad, for one thing, gave science a real-world application and showed these kids what to do with it. It got them excited about science."

Price had not decided in what capacity the school system would continue its relationship with Gaff.

Gaff could not be reached for comment.

Under Gaff's leadership, students gathered during school resource periods, after school and on weekends to perform well in various competitions.

For example, an eight-member team from a Project Lead the Way class was named "Best in State" in the 2015 Verizon Innovative App Challenge for creating "Speak Bot Pro," an app that would let students who can't speak clearly in the classroom because of medical or language barriers use icons to communicate verbally with teachers. Despite competition from much larger schools, Hauser was the only middle school in the state to garner the distinction, and one of only two state schools to do so overall.

Science Olympiad was another success story. Hauser teams finished fourth in 2016 and first in 2017 in regional tournaments, which brought together schools from around the area to compete in various science events. In state competitions that followed, the local team finished in 32nd place and 25th place, respectively. Gaff had said at the time that her goal was to continue improving from one year to the next so eventually the team would finish in the top five statewide.

"She had a strong following of kids," Price said.

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