Thursday April 05, 2018
Ray Cinti is the recipient of a national award presented by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). According to the association, the annual awards recognize exceptional science educators who make a difference in the lives of students by exemplifying excellence, building a strong science curriculum, and employing innovative teaching methodologies. Cinti’s Biotechnology Explorer Award is given annually to the outstanding high school teacher who has made biotechnology learning accessible to the classroom.
“Winning this award was very meaningful. In addition to the thrill of receiving this award, I feel it was a great honor,” said Cinti, who added, “An honor above and beyond any award is the honor of being a teacher. It’s been a privilege to spend my life working alongside so many wonderful students, who I’m confident will advance discovery and improve lives through the field of science.”
A biology teacher at the Green Mountain Valley School in Waitsfield, Cinti has created hundreds of classroom videos to use in his “flipped classroom,” allowing students to access material outside of class, so they are better prepared for classroom labs. As part of this endeavor, he has established a successful YouTube channel, which currently has more than 1.5 million views worldwide. Calling it a “game changer,” Cinti sees the videos as a strategic partner in inspiring students to reach for further understanding. “I work on how to create more moments where the students feel they have some of the information, but not all of the information. The mystery keeps us wanting to discover.”
Passionate about his profession, he says, “Good teaching comes down to being a model learner. I’m incredibly curious about the natural world and I assume that everyone else is too. But it’s not just curiosity, I have a bias to action. A scientist works hard to discover, to experiment, and to continually adjust and modify to find the answers. I tell my students that scientists don’t care so much about what they already know, they are driven by what they want to know. It’s the next question that matters most.”
Before moving to Vermont from San Francisco, where he taught for 26 years, Cinti taught a conservation biology course, which focused on using biotechnology techniques to help save Coastal Redwoods. The course trained students in current issues of conservation, molecular biology, and the genetic diversity of populations. Beyond the learning science, students also learned to appreciate their role as stewards of the environment.
Cinti is currently working on a new course focusing on investigating Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) in the Waitsfield Valley. This biotechnology course is designed to be a hands-on investigation to detect GMO’s. Students will gather common local food items and extract DNA and use PCR and Gel Electrophoresis to amplify inserted DNA sequences in crops.
His award included $1,000 to cover his costs to attend the NSTA conference plus $750 in science equipment for his classroom. It is sponsored by the San Francisco Bay Area biotechnology company BioRad. The award was presented at a black-tie ceremony March 16 at their annual meeting in Atlanta.
Cinti has also been an adjunct professor of anatomy and physiology at the Community College of Vermont. He is married to Christy Bolduc Cinti, also a science teacher. They live in South Burlington with their two children.
“Teaching is not merely a job. It is a calling and a vocation that I hope helps me to realize the highest goals of the profession,” says Cinti, noting a quote by Henry Adams that inspires him to this day, “A teacher touches eternity. He can never tell where his influence stops.”