Teachers know something about snow days. A snow and ice storm hit Washington, D.C., as about 100 science and mathematics teachers arrived here on March 2. The next day, they traveled by Metro and by foot through heavy snow to the White House, where they met with the President, the pinnacle of a three-day visit to the nation's capital.
They are winners of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), the U.S. government's highest honor for K-12 math and science teachers. Administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF), this recognition offers each awardee $10,000, along with the trip to Washington and the chance to network with government and education leaders, policy makers and each other.
In December, President Obama announced this group of winners: 102 K-6th-grade teachers, who represent all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Department of Defense Education Activity in the 2012 PAEMST competition. These educators were selected from a pool of more than 950 applicants by a panel of leaders in STEM education at both the state and national level.
Before meeting with the President, the teachers' visit to Washington began with a conversation about the future of STEM education in America with representatives from the Department of Education. The teachers participated in several professional development workshops with leaders from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the American Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. The agenda for the second day included a White House tour, a screening of "COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey" at the National Geographic Society, and a visit to NSF. On their last day, the teachers received their awards during a ceremony at the National Academies of Science.
"These teachers brought a wealth of talent and ideas with them," said NSF Assistant Director Joan Ferrini-Mundy, who leads the Education and Human Resources directorate. "The creative approaches they have taken to engaging young children in learning mathematics and science are giving their students a fantastic foundation for the rest of their education."
Some of the awardees discuss their passion for teaching in the accompanying video. They are also featured in a blog post on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy website.
A full list of the 102 awardees for 2012, with pictures and profiles are on the PAEMST website. In recognizing outstanding mathematics and science teachers, the PAEMST program alternates from year to year between primary (K-6th grade) and secondary (7-12th grade) teachers. There is still time to nominate exceptional K-6 grade teachers for the 2014 competition at the PAEMST website. Nominations close April 1, 2014.