Monahan wins state biology teachers award

June 18, 2008

By J.B. Wogan

Eastlake High School’s Bill Monahan has won the 2008 Outstanding Biology Teacher Award. 

The National Association of Biology Teachers named Monahan as the state’s sole recipient. 

The association awards one teacher from each state, in addition to U.S. possessions, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and Canada, according to an association press release.

“I’m not teaching to garner awards,” said Monahan, who admitted he was surprised to learn he had even been nominated. “If at the end of the year, the kids feel that they’ve learned something and still want to come to school, that’s the important thing.”

Criteria for the award take into account an instructor’s teaching ability, experience, initiative, and history of cooperation with the school and larger community, the release said.

Two fellow Eastlake instructors nominated Monahan.

After Monahan had received word of his nomination, he had to fill out a comprehensive packet with recommendations and references from colleagues and students, Monahan said.

Monahan has taught biology at Eastlake for 16 years. In addition to conducting an advanced placement biology class each year, he teaches a bioethics class called “Science and Society.” In the past, he has also taught a course on horticulture.

Before his time at Eastlake, Monahan spent about a year each at Juanita and Redmond high schools.

His career in education started after 22 years working as a field artillery officer and war planner for the U.S. Army. When he retired as a lieutenant colonel, Monahan pursued a degree in architecture at the University of Washington.

Before completing the degree, he shifted gears, earned a bachelor’s degree in biology, and then returned for a master’s in teaching biology.

Aside from the Outstanding Biology Award, Monahan said his only other official award came in the way of presidential scholarships.

This year’s presidential scholar from Eastlake – Anisha Gulabani – and the class of 2003’s presidential scholar – Shirley Hu – selected Monahan as an educational figure of singular significance in their lives, and invited him to attend a week of dinners and meetings in Washington D.C.

Gulabani and Hu were the state’s sole female recipients for the Presidential Scholarship in their respective years.

Gulabani was one of 139 students from across the country to earn the honor in 2008.
Monahan said he and Gulabani will leave June 20 for the nation’s capitol, where he could meet several congressmen and possibly President George Bush.

On his 2003, trip Monahan and Hu had dinner with the President’s wife, Laura Bush.

Reporter J.B. Wogan can be reached at 392-6434, ext. 247, or

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