OKLAHOMA CITY (Jan. 12, 2021) – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced today six state-level finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).
This year’s K-6 math finalists are:
- Jennifer Donwerth, Centennial Elementary, Edmond Public Schools
- Hollie Fuller, Homer Elementary, Byng Public Schools
- Bridgette Shelton, Elk City Elementary, Elk City Public Schools
This year’s K-6 science finalists are:
- Lisa Pitts, Oakdale Middle School, Oakdale Public School
- Keri Thompson, Bryant Elementary, Moore Public Schools
- Karla White, Earl Harris Elementary, Bethany Public Schools
"These exceptional teachers are models of excellence in education in Oklahoma," Hofmeister said. "Their talent and creativity in providing effective ways to connect children with real-world learning are paving the way for students to succeed in college and in their careers. I congratulate them on receiving this well-deserved recognition.”
Established in 1983, PAEMST is the highest recognition a K-12 mathematics or science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. Awards alternate each year between elementary and secondary teachers.
The finalists were chosen by a local selection committee of teachers, district-level personnel, representatives from higher education and past awardees. Each finalist demonstrated a mastery of math or science instruction and effective use of student assessments to improve student learning. Up to two Oklahoma finalists could be named national recipients of the award.
The national recipients represent all 50 states and U.S. territories. Winners will receive a paid trip to Washington, D.C., to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities, a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation and a certificate signed by the President of the United States.
Jennifer Donwerth teaches second grade at Centennial Elementary in Edmond Public Schools. She loves incorporating technology into student learning. Donwerth has been teaching for 14 years.
"Math should be exciting. I wish for my students not just to learn math but to experience it. I desire for them to feel safe enough to explore, discover, and take risks. I want to hear them talking about math and seeing its application in their everyday lives."
Bridgette Shelton teaches third grade at Elk City Elementary in Elk City Public Schools. She served on the Oklahoma Standards Review Committee for English Language Arts in 2020 and has been involved in presenting professional development in technology implementation. She has been in education for 15 years.
“I believe every student can be a mathematician. Being a student who struggled with math in school, I feel it is very important for me to encourage students to see their potential and to encourage independent thinking in my math instruction.”
Lisa Pitts teaches fifth grade at Oakdale Middle School, in Oakdale Public Schools. She was a 2017 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year finalist, Space Foundation teacher liaison and Oklahoma Science Teaching Association elementary director. She has been in education for 26 years.
"I am most concerned about equity for students in education. In the midst of this pandemic, many schools have turned to distance learning or a hybrid schedule out of concern for staff and student safety. I worry about students learning from home without support, access to technology and basic needs."
Keri Thompson teaches kindergarten at Bryant Elementary in Moore Public Schools. She has received grants for her classroom from Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom and Lowe’s Toolbox for Education. Thompson has been teaching for more than eight years.
"I am interested in helping teacher candidates to see the importance and plausibility of having a classroom that is centered around the learner becoming an independent and productive community member. I am also interested in getting students outside and adding to our outdoor classroom. I am most passionate about engaging learners through a caring and structured environment that provides students the opportunity to learn through play and discovery."
Karla White teaches fifth grade at Earl Harris Elementary in Bethany Public Schools. White is a Science Improvement Fellow for the Oklahoma Excel Program, Oklahoma Science Teaching Association President (OSTA) and has been OSTA’s Oklahoma Elementary Science Teacher of the Year.
"I am passionate about supporting science teachers in Oklahoma. All teachers should have access to high-quality teaching strategies that focus on three-dimensional learning."