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Honoring Outstanding Teachers and Announcing Further Progress in Support of the President’s STEM Education Goals

Today, President Obama welcomed more than 100 teachers who received the 2013 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching (PAEMST).

School was in session today at the White House, as President Obama welcomed more than 100 teachers who received the 2013 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching (PAEMST).

Investing in exemplary teachers is vital to inspiring the next generation of explorers and innovators. Great teaching is a key part of any child’s success, and in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, it is critical to create educational experiences that are project-based, hands-on, and build a love of lifelong learning.  

As the President has said, “Strengthening STEM education is vital to preparing our students to compete in the 21st century economy and we need to recruit and train math and science teachers to support our Nation’s students.”

To meet this challenge, the President called for preparing 100,000 excellent science and mathematics teachers over the next decade in his 2011 State of the Union address. More than 230 corporations, philanthropies, universities, service organizations, and Federal agencies have come together in a coalition called 100kin10. The coalition has made hundreds of specific commitments to help hire, develop, and retain more than 43,000 STEM teachers and has raised over $80 million in private funds. Today, 100kin10 is announcing a new fund to support STEM teacher training, with pledges totaling more than $6 million.

Since 1983, more than 4,300 teachers have been recognized through the PAEMST program for their contributions in the classroom and the teaching profession. The 2013 award recipients included 7-12 grade math teachers and science teachers from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity. 

Our country’s future innovators, discoverers, and designers are sitting in classrooms today and the students of these awardees have a true STEM champion as their teacher.  Here are just a few of the 2013 awardees:

  • Jessica Caviness, Texas, engages her students in mathematics by infusing technology into her curriculum. Her students use Skype to better understand geometric concepts, as well as connect with authentic audiences to make real-world applications of their classroom learning. 
  • Michelle Way DaSilva, Rhode Island, and her annual Pi Day (March 14) celebration have sparked interest in mathematics among her students and their families as well. Every year, Michelle hosts a Math Night, where her students’ families interact over games and puzzles.
  • Eric Figueroa, Puerto Rico, has taught at both the high school and university level. For three years in a row, the high school students who Eric mentors have represented Puerto Rico in the International Science and Engineering Fair.
  • Nneka Howard-Sibilly, the U.S. Virgin Islands, is a science teacher who engages her students to take an active approach to learning. She helps coach a team of students competing in the KidWind competition, a program that aims to inspire students to become the renewable energy leaders of tomorrow.
  • Rebecca Vieyra, Illinois, is a science teacher who NASA decided to borrow to serve as a 2014 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, where she advises the agency on aeronautics education initiatives.
  • Derrick Wood, Pennsylvania, is not only a teacher of Advanced Placement Chemistry – he also authored AP Chemistry All Access, a review book that highlights authentic applications of chemistry in addition to problem solving strategies and content review.

Kumar Garg is Assistant Director for Learning and Innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Danielle Carnival is Assistant Director for Education and Learning Science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.