Southeast Missouri State University alumnus Glenn Westover of Florissant, Missouri, enjoyed imparting scientific findings to high school students during his 32-year teaching career.
“I could not imagine a more exciting career than education. Working with kids is always exciting. If there was ever a dull day, then it was my own fault,” Glenn says.
Over his career, Glenn taught exclusively in the Ferguson-Florissant School District in St. Louis, where he was a faculty sponsor for the Outdoor Club (camping, backpacking, canoeing, repelling and spelunking), and coach of the school’s Odyssey of the Mind team ( a competition in creative problem solving). He mentored advanced high school students at the George Engelmann Science and Mathematics Institute at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. In addition, he volunteered with the Junior Academy of Science of St. Louis. He also hosted 12 exchange students through the Youth for Understanding exchange program.
Now retired, Glenn was inducted in 2014 into the Ritenour Hall of Fame for his contributions to education.
“I was surprised and pleased to have received the Hall of Fame honor. Such an honor is like being recognized by your family,” Glenn says.
A classmate and childhood friend nominated Glenn for induction.
Glenn has received numerous honors for excellence in teaching, receiving the National Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching, presented by the National Science Foundation and The National Association of Science Teachers in 1992.
“It was very special for me and my wife to attend a ceremony in the White House with President Clinton, to have dinner at the State Department, and to go on a dinner cruise on the Potomac River,” Glenn says.
In 1993, he received the Emerson Electric Company Excellence in Teaching Award. In1995, he earned the Outstanding Biology Teacher Award for Missouri, presented by the National Association of Biology Teachers. In 1997, he received the Outstanding Science Teacher Award, presented by the Academy of Science of St. Louis. He says he believes a special circumstance contributing to his selection for this award was his volunteer work with the Junior Academy of Science of St. Louis. In 2002, he earned the Radio Shack National Teacher Award, presented by Radio Shack Corporation in Las Vegas.
He earned a Bachelor of Science in Education with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry from Southeast in 1968. He earned a master’s in education with an emphasis in secondary education from the University of Missouri – St. Louis in 1975.
Glenn says he chose Southeast because it was close to home, affordable, small and his paternal grandparents met there when they attended Southeast in 1909.
“I think the greatest contribution to my career that came from Cape was my experience with some excellent teachers. I tried to emulate the teaching styles and behaviors of my favorite teachers at Southeast,” he says.
Southeast helped him formulate his career path.
“I was motivated to pursue a career in science education after my first class in trigonometry at Southeast. On the first day of class, the teacher said, ‘You remember blah, blah, blah from your high school trig class.’ Well, I didn’t and immediately switched my major from math to biology. I have no regrets about that decision,” he says.
Though retired, he continues to impact young minds and provide knowledge to them.
“My favorite hobby is my volunteer work as a docent at the St. Louis Zoo,” Glenn says. “As a long-time teacher, I still love to talk to kids about the wonders of life. It is special at the zoo because I get to interact so much with little kids – I taught high school age kids in my teaching career. It is a very special experience to watch a six-year old’s eyes as they grow to the size of quarters while I’m showing an alligator skull at the herpetarium and he or she is asking ‘Is that a dinosaur?’”
He is a volunteer member of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) at the University of Missouri in St. Louis, ensuring the humane and ethical use of vertebrate animals in research. In addition, Glenn says he has enjoyed the outdoors and loves to fish and hunt. After retirement, he purchased a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and has ridden it through 49 states. He says he rented one in Alaska.
Glenn has some advice for Southeast students.
“Be passionate about what you do,” he says.