With great fanfare, Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams made a striking announcement on August 13, 2015. Ten teachers from around the state had been named finalists for a prestigious national award—the 2015 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).
This is the highest recognition awarded to exemplary 7-12th grade math and science teachers in the US. The National Science Foundation (NSF) administers these awards on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
The secondary mathematics finalists from Texas include:
- Jonathan Claydon (Spring Branch) – Precalculus and Calculus AB teacher
- Darla Emerson (Lovejoy) – Statistics teacher
- Rebecca Cordell Grant (Plano) – Math 8-Honors teacher
- Patty C. Hill (Austin) – Algebra 1 and Algebra II teacher
- Penny Smeltzer (Round Rock) – AP Statistics teacher
The first step to receiving this award is to be nominated. Then, a state panel of administrators, master teachers, and specialists reviewed the applications and chose the most outstanding teachers to be considered by the NSF for national awardee status. Once candidates have been selected at the state or territorial level, a panel of distinguished mathematicians, scientists, and educators can select up to two teachers per state.
The winners receive $10,000, a signed Presidential citation, and a paid trip for two to DC to attend the recognition events and have opportunities for professional development. The Texas State Board of Education will recognize all of the finalists.
The PAEMST is the highest honor for teachers of math and science. More than 4,300 teachers have been recognized since 1983. Awardees inspire their communities, act as leaders in the improvement of math and science education, and serve as models for their colleagues.