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Vol. 45, No. 9
Feb. 7, 2011

Presidential Award Recognizes Math and Science Teachers

Four Missouri mathematics and science teachers have been selected as finalists for the prestigious 2010 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Melissa Powers, sixth-grade teacher at Monett Intermediate, Monett School District, is the state’s mathematics finalist.

Three teachers are finalists in the science category.  They are Perry Dunkeson, third-grade teacher at Whiteman A.F.B. Elementary, Knob Noster School District; Lisa McPherson, fifth-grade teacher, Cold Water Elementary, Hazelwood School District, Florissant; and Elizabeth O’Day, a teacher in grades 3-5 at Hallsville Intermediate, Hallsville School District.

“This is a wonderful recognition for mathematics and science educators,” said Dr. Karla Eslinger, assistant commissioner for the Office of Educator Quality at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  “Like many outstanding math and science teachers across the state, our candidates are engaging students and inspiring them to learn more.”

The four 2010 finalists will be formally honored at a statewide teacher conference later this month.  President Obama is expected to name the winners this summer.  He is authorized to bestow up to 108 awards each year.

The winners will be selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians and educators following a similar selection process that was done at the state level.  Awardees have been shown to devote more time to professional development, use innovative approaches in their classroom teaching and be more likely to use computers and other technologies in their classrooms.

Winners of this presidential honor will receive a $10,000 award to be used at their discretion from the National Science Foundation. They will also receive a trip to Washington, D.C., for the awards ceremony and several days of educational events.

Each year, the award alternates between mathematics and science teachers in grades K-6 and those teaching grades 7-12.

Missouri’s 2009 winners were Steven Willott, an Advanced Placement statistics and calculus teacher at Francis Howell North High School, St. Charles; and Marsha Tyson, a ninth-grade physics and honors physics teacher at Oakland Junior High, Columbia.  They recently met with President Obama to receive their awards.

Nominations for 2011 will be for teachers in grades 7-12.  Teachers may be nominated through April 1 by educators, students, parents, or members of the community.