Some of the finest U.S. math and science teachers are gathering in the nation's capital this week to be honored for their work.
More than 100 educators are being recognized as part of the Presidential Awards for Excellence for Mathematics and Science Teaching. They'll participate in professional development activities and recognition events, including a White House ceremony on Thursday. The awards program is organized by the National Science Foundation.
This year's batch of educators includes 52 science teachers and 51 math teachers from across the nation. In addition to the recognition and a free trip to Washington, each winner receives a $10,000 award. All the winners this year are from the middle and high school levels. (The award alternates a year of K-6 winners with a year of 7-12 winners.)
Among the winners are educators like Kareen Borders, who teaches science and an elective aerospace course at Key Peninsula Middle School in Lakebay, Wash. She writes of her approach: "My students are not passive learners of science, they ARE scientists. They embrace the idea that they are empowered to own their learning. In addition to creating a love of learning within my students, I am intentional about equipping students with wonder, teamwork strategies, and problem-solving skills for jobs that may not exist yet."
Shawn Towle, who teaches math at Falmouth Middle School in Falmouth, Maine, writes: "It is not good enough to give kids 'how to', if we don't also teach them 'when to' or 'why to', thus my commitment to problem-centered teaching and helping kids make sense of mathematics."
"Science and technology have long been at the core of America's strength and competitiveness, and the scientists and engineers who have led America on its remarkable path to success share something very precious: science and math teachers who brought these critical subjects to life," President Obama said in a statement when the winners were announced. "Today, we honor some of the best of these teachers and thank them for their dedication."
The teachers are nominated by students, parents, colleagues, and others, and must provide a written description of how they demonstrate teaching excellence, along with a video recording of their class in action. The applicants are reviewed by selection panels at the state and national levels. The final selections are made by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.