LAKEWOOD RANCH — Carrie Rainwater’s high school-aged daughter tells her mom how to keep lectures hip and cool.
So, naturally, Rainwater, an eighth-grade science teacher at Nolan Middle School, once turned off the lights and laughed with her students as they did the particle dance.
Rainwater moved her body with the students, demonstrating the difference between a solid, liquid and gas.
In another class, she spent an entire lecture relating the “Wizard of Oz” to real life.
Rainwater, known for her unconventional, motivational teaching style was named one of four finalists in the county for the Outstanding EdVantage Educator of the Year award.
One educator and one member of support staff will be honored as the county’s best at an awards ceremony in March.
Manatee County schools Interim Superintendent David Gayler and district staff members broke the news to the soft-spoken Rainwater, Dec. 14, at the school.
Rainwater had taken the day off from work to spend time with her mother, who was visiting from South Carolina.
The two were called back into school so Rainwater could be recognized.
“I am obviously very surprised,” Rainwater said. “I had no idea I would make it this far. I get kind of uncomfortable when I talk about myself. It’s more fun seeing the students reactions as we go through process.”
Nolan Principal Nancy High says faculty looks up to Rainwater.
Co-workers especially admire her push to incorporate technology in the classroom.
In her science class, students carry hand-held devices to answer questions. Their responses flash onto a projector, allowing Rainwater to get immediate feedback and adjust her lecture accordingly.
Rainwater starts each class with a YouTube clip meant to inspire. Recently, she showed a scene from the new movie, “The Hobbit.” She created an Instagram Hall of Fame — students anxiously wait to see if their pictures made the cut.
“She comes up with ideas that are hard for any one of us to even imagine until she comes up with them,” High said.
Contact Josh Siegel at [email protected].