FLEMINGTON, NJ – Hunterdon County Vocational School District has named Dr. Donna Badgwell as its Educator of the Year.
Badgwell is an instructor of biomedical sciences who has led the district’s Biomedical Sciences Academy (BSA) since its start in 2016 with a freshman class of 25 students. The BSA now operates at full capacity with 106 students in grades nine through 12. The inaugural class will graduate this spring.
Badgwell helped develop curriculum for the four-year program, incorporating college coursework and Project Lead The Way activities to prepare students for high-growth career fields in the biomedical sciences. She serves as the BSA’s primary instructor, teaching in a resource-rich classroom at North Hunterdon High School and engaging students through hands-on experiences. She leads students through capstone projects that encourage them to explore biomedical innovations and projects that use the program’s prized 6-foot Anatomage Table, which presents a fully segmented real human 3D anatomy system.
“Few teachers can say that they created a program that will have an impact on students’ lives for decades into the future, but Dr. Badgwell has created such a program,” said Jane Griesinger, HCVSD’s director of curriculum and instruction and supervisor of academies. “Dr. Badgwell was responsible not just for the curriculum, but also for the relationships with students, parents, university faculty and community members. What she created went beyond a typical high school course, incorporating opportunities for students to earn college credits while they were in her class through dual enrollment, and opportunities for students to participate in work-based learning experiences to understand how the content impacts the broader community.”
“As the inaugural class of students in the BSA are preparing to graduate this year, I am reflecting on all that we have accomplished,” Dr. Badgwell said. “I am proud that we have designed a four-year program that allows students to earn 19 college credits with three universities, provides them with meaningful opportunities to engage with partners in the healthcare and biomedical industries, and guides their exploration in biomedical science while still in high school. Beyond the BSA, and in conjunction with Hunterdon Medical Center and Hunterdon Healthcare, we initiated the first county-wide career fair to expose students to the breadth of careers that exist in biomedical science and healthcare. I am proud to be growing and expanding a community that supports the development of the next generation of health care professionals and biomedical scientists in Hunterdon County.”
In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Badgwell serves as the Med Cross club advisor for North Hunterdon High School, as well as the BSA’s HOSA Chapter advisor, helping to prepare students for competitions and arranging guest speakers for her classes. HOSA, formerly known as Health Occupations Students of America, provides leadership development, motivation and recognition exclusively for students in high school and beyond who are enrolled in health science and biomedical science programs.
Badgwell’s background makes her an incredible resource for students. In 2004, she received a Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Texas – M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. After receiving her Ph.D., she spent three years researching ovarian cancer at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center – one of the top cancer hospitals in the country. She also worked in industry for about five years, spending that time traveling as a field scientist to demonstrate equipment that was responsible for placing DNA and RNA into cells.
Badgwell merged her passions for science and teaching when she stepped into the role of adjunct professor at Raritan Valley Community College. From there, she continued as an instructor for the NJ-STEP program, which helps incarcerated individuals plan for their lives after prison. Through this program, she traveled to different prisons throughout the state, including Northern State Prison, East Jersey State Prison and Eda Mahan Correctional Facility for Women.
“Dr. Badgwell has drawn on her content knowledge and industry experience to serve students with a broad range of abilities, skills and backgrounds, infusing in each of them an understanding and appreciation for the sciences,” said Dr. Todd Bonsall, HCVSD superintendent. “We are incredibly lucky to have her as part of the teaching team to help inspire and prepare the next generation of scientists enrolled in our Biomedical Sciences Academy.”
The Biomedical Sciences Academy (BSA) is one of three full-time, science-based academies offered by the Hunterdon County Vocational School District. The others are the Computer Science and Applied Engineering Academy (CSAEA) and the Environmental Sustainability and Engineering Academy (ESEA). The district’s largest school is Hunterdon County Polytech Career and Technical School, a shared-time high school that prepares students for a seamless transition to college and career paths. HCVSD also operates an Adult and Continuing Education school. Learn more at www.hcvsd.org.
All pupils will be given equal opportunity for enrollment in programs operated by the Hunterdon County Vocational School District regardless of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, affectional or sexual orientation, gender, religion, disability, or socioeconomic status (34 C.F.R. Part 100, Appendix B, Section IV-A). No qualified handicapped person shall, on the basis of handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity which receives federal financial assistance, et seq (34 C.F.R. Part 104.4(a)(b).