Alabama Math Teacher Receives Highest Honor

A Trussville, Alabama math teacher has been chosen as a recipient of the 2016 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). Jan Walls is one of just five teachers chosen in the elementary mathematics category.

The fourth grade teacher is a graduate of the University of Alabama. She earned her master of arts in education degree in 2008 and is set to attend Auburn University to begin work on her Ph.D. She has taught in Tuscaloosa City Schools (TCS) for six years and will also be taking on the role of TCS math coach.

Kent Walls, Jana’s husband, says that his wife works hard to engage her students. “I hope that now as she moves into being a math coach, that she can get every kids in TCS engaged in math, liking math and enjoying math,” he said. Walls believes that teachers must love what they teach if they want their students to love it too. She places importance on how the subject is taught, equally sharing the responsibility of learning with the students.

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The winner of PAEMST will be selected among state finalists by a national committee and will be awarded $10,000. The award, which was established in 1983, is considered to be the highest honor for K-12 science and mathematics teachers. The President bestows 108 awards each year through the government program. To date, over 4,400 teachers have received the honor.

Sid McNeal, TCS Board President, explained the struggles that the state of Alabama and the country faces in trying to properly educate students in math. He went on to say that scores have been going up as the educational system matures and the efforts of educators are realized.

Interim state superintendent of education, Philip Cleveland, told recipients of the award that their selection clearly demonstrates their ability, leadership, and dedication to education.