APAST President Kenneth Huff has released a letter that is intended to express the support of the Association of Presidential Awardees in Science Teaching (APAST) toward the development and implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards. We believe this is an important step to guide science teaching and learning in the 21st Century.
To view this letter, please click here.
The Making of a Presidential Mathematics & Science Educator
Edited by Sean Nank, Ph.D.
The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) was first awarded in 1983. It is the only K-12 education award issued by the President of the United States. It is the highest award in the entire nation that anyone can bestow on mathematics and science teachers. One mathematics teacher and one science teacher can win the award from each state, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, United States territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity.
When a teacher has been nominated, s/he completes the application process and is judged at the state level. Between zero and three finalists are chosen at this level. From there, the finalists are judged again at the national level. Either one winner is chosen or the award for that particular state goes unfilled. The PAEMST is considered the Nobel Prize for educators.
When I was honored at the week-long award ceremony in Washington DC, I was surrounded by some of the best educators in the nation. Being in a room with PAEMST awardees, one cannot help but experience the excitement for education, dedication to teaching, and the vast amount of pedagogical and curricular knowledge, reflection, and appreciation for being a professional educator. These teachers’ pedagogical strategies, perspectives on math and science curricula, and personal teaching stories intrigued me. I was in awe at the insight and professional dedication and was compelled to learn as much as I could from these PAEMST teachers. I wanted to hear their stories and understand their journeys. This camaraderie and admiration for the importance of their stories is what motivated and is captured in this book.
During one of the award weeks in Washington DC, a guest speaker told the new awardees that when they returned to their schools and communities, people might wonder, “What makes you so great?” This book is, in part, is an answer to the query.
The PAEMST awardees’ climb to excellence began long before their recognition in Washington DC. These teachers measure their success by the time and support given to students as they share their honor with the myriad of people, contexts, and influences that made them the teachers they have become. Every chapter describes the teachers’ commitment to students, colleagues, and the profession of teaching.
This book is a collection of 50 autobiographical stories of PAEMST educators’ journeys through life and their educational experiences, both as students and as teachers. Nineteen of the award years are represented. Also represented are 28 states, Washington DC, and the Department of Defense Education Activity. Teaching experiences range from younger teachers and new awardees to retired teachers who were awarded the PAEMST over 20 years ago. Life experiences range from people who were born under communist rule and vividly remember the launch of Sputnik to people who were born after the Vietnam War ended.
Teleconferences and individual conversations with the authors in this book greatly influenced the organization of the chapters. The editor and many of the PAEMST awardees voiced concern that the mathematics and science chapters not be segregated. There is a consistent dialogue of segregation familiar to mathematics and science educators. The integration of mathematics and science chapters endorses a Deweyan approach of avoiding the artificial separation of subject matters. Mathematics and science are intricately entwined in research, discussions, pedagogical strategies, and curricula. Their symbiotic nature serves as a catalyst to foster greater integration in educational settings both in and out of the classroom.
The product of their efforts is a collection of chapters in which PAEMST awardees candidly describe their experiences, influences, and motivations, first, to become teachers and, then, to become great teachers. Each chapter provides a window into the making of a teacher of PAEMST status. The chapters are inspirational, educational, and candidly honest. Some awardees had “normal” lives while others lived through tragedy. Some had fond memories of their time as students and others recalled negative experiences. Although their stories vary greatly, the one commonality though all the chapters is that somewhere along their journey, they became outstanding.
For the latest news and information on K–12 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education issues and federal legislation, please visit www.stemedcoalition.org or www.stemedcaucus.org.