Enochs High teacher wins biotech honor

Enochs High School teacher Dave Menshew has been honored for bringing bio- technology to the classroom and encouraging other teachers to do the same.

Menshew earned the 2009 Genzyme-Life Technologies Biotech Educator Award and $10,000 after judges applauded his presentation at the Georgia Institute of Technology this week. Menshew was chosen out of 2,000 teachers across the United States for the Biotechnology Institute honor.

"I've had a tremendous amount of support — top-down support from the school board, superintendents, department chairs, the (Stanislaus County Economic Development and) Workforce Alliance, grants and training," said Menshew, who helped start the forensics program at Enochs.

Menshew's efforts come at a time when fewer schools are focusing on science classes and U.S. students are falling behind students in other countries in science and technology. State testing in math and English have taken precedence over science, social studies and electives, Menshew said.

"We're seeing fewer home-grown scientists and people from other countries are taking the lead," he said.

Enochs junior David Melendez was not a fan of science before he enrolled in Menshew's forensics class. David and Menshew said teachers could get better training in science education so they would feel more comfortable teaching it.

And for many students, science is too technical or difficult. Before Menshew, David couldn't understand science teachers' technical vocabulary, but "he just broke it down for me," David said.

"Everything comes down to science in the end, with life and everything," David said. "Science relates to real life."

Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at or 578-2339.