TCTA member Dixie Ross has a passion for bringing the world of advanced mathematics to students who traditionally don’t enter it – female, minority and low-income students. “The nation needs those kids’ talent,” says the

Pflugerville High School AP calculus and Algebra 2 teacher. The nation also needs teachers like Ross, who was honored by President Barack Obama in June 2012 as a winner of the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) for 2011. She was one of only 97 math and science teachers in the U.S. and one of only two from Texas to receive the honor.

Ross says that her goal in the classroom is to help students understand what it takes to accomplish something very challenging. She does that by providing challenges and the support needed to overcome them. And, with the experience she’s gained from 29 years of teaching, she works just as hard outside the classroom to help prepare other teachers to do the same.

“It’s important to build capacity, to help more teachers be successful at higher mathematics,” she says. “We need more teachers who are prepared to work with students to provide challenging content and supportive environments. Many can do one or the other, but putting those together is really important.”

As a PAEMST winner, Ross received an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for an awards ceremony and several days of educational and celebratory events, including visits with members of Congress and the Obama administration. She also received a $10,000 award, of which she used a portion to fund a scholarship that was given on behalf of the Pflugerville High faculty to a deserving, first-generation college student who is studying engineering.

“I feel this accomplishment is not mine alone, but a reflection of many people’s efforts,” Ross says of her award. “I encourage people to nominate teachers they know. It’s a tremendous opportunity to grow professionally and be part of a group that is dedicated to excellence in mathematics teaching.”

Learn more about the PAEMST program.