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Thaler receives the 2022 Betty-Ware Wray Staff Award

Mary Thaler is pictured (on the right) with a replica NASA spacesuit during the Center’s NASA Day hosted on the Armstrong Campus in Savannah.

The Betty-Ware Wray staff award is given annually to a College of Education (COE) staff member who has excelled in their job performance as well as University service. During the College’s annual meeting on August 3, Mary Thaler, administrative assistant for the Center for STEM Education was named the 2022 recipient. 

Thaler joined the COE’s Center for STEM Education (i2STEMed) in January 2018 where she assists with programming and grant-funded projects as well as maintains the Center’s budget. She has assisted with planning and coordination of summer camps such as Eagle Experience, a marine science experience; Hop To It, a herpetology camp for girls; and Our2Swamp, a development experience for teachers. She also organizes STEM Field Experiences, manages the Center’s School Outreach program lending materials and equipment to schools, and assists with many STEM outreach projects including STEM Nights at regional schools and showcasing the Science To-Go mobile unit at events such as CoastFest, the Dahlonega Science Festival, and Girl Scouts STEM Festival in Savannah.

“I know I can rely on Mary to answer questions, make decisions, and ensure timely responses,” said i2STEMed Coordinator Kania Greer, Ed.D. “She is not only a colleague but a true friend and makes coming to work fun each and every day.”

During the height of the pandemic, Thaler and Greer completed an underwater remote operated vehicle (ROV) course through the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) group to enhance their knowledge in circuitry, engineering, and physics that it takes to build an underwater ROV from scratch. With this knowledge, the duo have been able to assist and train coaches of local teams hoping to compete in the MATE ROV competitions.

“Mary started a robotics team at Metter High School, which is a small, rural school,” said Greer. “The school would not have been able to afford to hire someone to do this, and Mary donated her time outside of work to train teachers how to coach robotics, and she continues to be involved with the club today.”

Mary Thaler (right) and Kania Greer, Ed.D., completing the MATE ROV course.

In addition to her work responsibilities, Thaler is currently completing a bachelor’s in graphic design at Georgia Southern. She holds an associate’s of design from The Art Institute of Atlanta. Utilizing her natural creative ability, Thaler creates many of the Center’s graphics and designs from scratch, and is known for crafting interactive bulletin boards and displays for the Center and College. 

“Mary routinely goes above and beyond to help students, faculty, and staff,” said Greer. “The Center for STEM Education would not be where it is today with the dedication Mary has had to fulfilling our mission. Her extra hours and weekend work are a key to making this office work. She knows the ins and outs of this office and has formed connections with teachers that help the Center succeed.”

Staff members are nominated for the Betty-Ware Wray Award by COE faculty, staff and students, and the nominations are reviewed by the College’s Staff Advisory Council.

For a complete list of award recipients visit


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