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SCC Professor Honored by Girl Scouts of America for Volunteer Work

Published: 07/20/2021

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When SCC Associate Professor Stacey Thater proposed to his wife, he decided to take up a few of his future wife’s hobbies and interests.

“Her interest was volunteering for the Girl Scouts,” Thater explained. “So, I took the training to be an outdoor adventure course instructor.”

Twenty years later, he’s still at it.

“We build on a girl’s self-confidence and self-esteem at these outdoor courses,” he said. “They get the freedom to make their own choices and decisions. They learn to overcome the fears they have. Any challenge they take that advances them beyond where they were before is a huge step forward.”

In 2021, Thater was honored by the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri for his dedication to their organization. He was awarded the “Thanks Badge,” which is given to a volunteer for outstanding service significantly above the expected performance that benefits the total Girl Scout Council.

“I was filled with humility,” Thater said. “There are thousands of Girl Scout volunteers, and the ‘Thanks Badge’ is given to only a few every year. So, to receive it as my first award was simply a wonderful and unexpected feeling.”

While it started as a way to impress his wife, he found volunteering as a way to connect with young students about a subject he loves – science.

“I have the distinct pleasure of working in a predominantly female and very diverse science department at SCC,” Thater said. “I realize how unusual this is and have always been so impressed with my science colleagues. I believe if I can encourage more woman to choose science, the world will be better for it.”

Thater came to SCC in 2002, becoming the College’s first-ever full-time physics instructor in 2004.

“I knew from a very young age that physics was my passion,” he said. “All people who choose science have a mind that wants to solve puzzles, but physics is all about explaining the ‘why’ of things.”

He credits much of his success in the classroom to making personal connections with students. Thater believes that the love and enthusiasm he has for his classroom materials becomes apparent to his students. That connection helps his students succeed.

“A personal connection, no matter how slight, increase student success,” he said. “I also strongly believe that making sure your students know you respect them is so important. I started every semester by telling my students they are here to learn and don’t need to be embarrassed about not knowing an answer. It’s my job to teach them, and their job to learn. I let them know that I realize they have the much more challenging role by far!”

To say Thater is a busy person would be an understatement. By his own account, he volunteers nearly 200 hours each year to various organizations, including the Girl Scouts. He’s been to the top of the Temple of Kukulcan, scuba-dived the Great Barrier Reef and walked on top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. He’s also a dad.

“I had my first child at the age of 44 when many people are becoming a grandparent,” he joked.

If you are wondering where he gets the energy, Thater would likely tell you physics might have the answer.  

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