A science teacher from Bolsa Grande High School in the Garden Grove Unified School District is among eight state finalists in the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching program.
Kathryn Beck, who has been teaching for 18 years, is now in the running for what’s considered the highest recognition in the nation for math and science teachers at the secondary level.
Enacted by Congress in 1983, the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching program, or PAEMST, is administered by the National Science Foundation on behalf of The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. The president can present up to 108 awards each year, alternating annually between primary and secondary teachers.
Beck is credited with creating a safe classroom environment that promotes cooperative learning through table talks and group discourse. She also developed College Board-approved advanced placement Physics B and C curriculum, as well as a STEM after-school extension class that was developed with the Orange County Department of Education.
The other science finalists from California are Erin Dunroe, who teaches at Lake Center Middle School in the Little Lake City Elementary School District; Allie Kittay, a high school teacher at Redwood High School in the Tamalpais Union High School District; Kari Milton, who teaches grades six through eight at Bancroft Middle School in the Long Beach Unified School District; and Jose Rivas, a high school teacher at Lennox Mathematics, Science, and Technology Academy in the Lennox School District.
The math finalists are Clayton Dagler, who teaches at Luther Burbank High School in the Sacramento City Unified School District; James Snyder, who teaches at Anderson Valley Junior Senior High School in the Anderson Valley Unified School District; and Andrew Walter, who teaches at Alonzo Stagg Senior High in the Stockton Unified School District.
“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st-century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” State Superintendent Torlakson said in a news release. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”
To select California’s nominees, the state Department of Education partnered with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council. Applicants had to show subject mastery, appropriate use of instructional methods and strategies, evidence of lifelong learning, and leadership in education outside the classroom.
State finalists were chosen by a panel of their peers, who reviewed each candidate’s content knowledge, teaching effectiveness, achievement results and professional involvement.