Four Wyoming teachers – Necole Hanks, Amy Kassel, Helen Ommen, and Jim Stith – have received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). President Donald J. Trump made the announcement of the 2017/2018 winners on Tuesday.
PAEMST is the highest recognition that K-12 mathematics, science, or computer science teachers can receive in the U.S. Nominations and awards are facilitated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation.
Hanks teaches sixth-grade science at Powell Middle School, Kassel is the secondary mathematics curriculum coordinator and instructional facilitator with Laramie County School District #1 in Cheyenne, Ommen teaches gifted and talented students at Spring Creek Elementary School in Laramie, and Stith teaches environmental science at Newcastle High School.
“These four teachers are an inspiration to students and colleagues. They are true leaders,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “I am so very proud of Necole, Amy, Helen and Jim for their dedication to math and science education, and for their commitment to the students of Wyoming.”
A panel of distinguished mathematicians, scientists, and educators at the state and national level assess the applications before recommending nominees to OSTP. Teachers are selected based on their distinction in the classroom and dedication to improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. Enacted by Congress in 1983, the program authorizes the President to award 108 math and science teachers each year in recognition of their contribution to excellent teaching and learning.
“I truly feel honored to receive an award of this magnitude,” Hanks said. “I am blessed to share my passion for teaching science to future world changers and even more fortunate to improve my practice each day.”
“I am eager to have the opportunity to build partnerships with like-minded colleagues for the benefit of students,” Ommen said. “This award will be a powerful tool for more innovation and learning.”
“Mathematics education is my passion,” said Kassel, who taught 7-12 grade mathematics at East High School in Cheyenne at the time of her 2017 nomination. “I am excited to be part of this community of teacher-leaders, with an opportunity to impact mathematics education in my district, and our state and nation.”
“It is an honor not only for myself, but also for the coworkers, mentors, and administrators who gave me the opportunity to advance my teaching abilities,” Stith said. “My love for science and knowledge was inspired by Sharla Dowding, a high school science teacher, and I strive to pass that passion on to my students.”
The awardees come from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools, and schools in four U.S. territories. Each recipient receives a certificate signed by the President; a trip to Washington D.C. to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities; and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.