For top-notch math and science teaching

The Classroom Teacher, winter 2014-15

Two TCTA members are among eight Texas finalists for the 2014 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST), the highest honors bestowed by the U.S. government for K-12 math and science (including computer science) teaching. The award recognizes teachers who develop and implement a high-quality instructional program that is informed by content knowledge and enhances student learning. The winners will be announced in early 2015.

Nancy Gardner, fifth-grade science teacher, Elliott Elementary, Frisco ISD

This is the second time Nancy Gardner has been named a finalist for the PAEMST award. You might recall her being featured in our winter 2012-13 issue for her 2012 nomination.

This time around, Gardner was nominated for her above-and-beyond work to organize a STEM fair to give Elliott Elementary students the chance to develop their own investigation and collaborate with the 40-plus STEM professionals who attended. More than 200 students and 600 guests made the event a huge success.

“For weeks after the event, students kept talking about how a real doctor or engineer was impressed by their project and how they wanted to be in that same STEM profession,” Gardner says. “It was so exciting to see kindergarten through fifth-grade students get excited about STEM. The night was all about inquiry-based learning, students learning from other students, and coming together as a community to get kids excited about the STEM professions.”

Jennifer Cundieff, fifth-grade math and science teacher, Raye McCoy Elementary, Georgetown ISD

Enthusiasm and outside-the-box thinking — like using frozen waffles to teach her students the formulas for circumference, diameter and area of circles — earned Jennifer Cundieff a PAEMST nomination by her principal, Alma Guzman.

Says Cundieff: “I teach because I want scholars to reach their highest potential, and I want them to love learning! I struggled in math as a young child and through high school. I made good grades but it was due to many hours of tutoring and extra effort. I want to take that level of anxiety and stress out of my classroom. I want my scholars to see math as a fun, interesting and important subject that they will need and use throughout their lives, not just in school. I teach my scholars in a way that is extremely hands-on and rooted in brain research-based methods. I want my scholars to love math, feel confident in their abilities, and feel proud about their growth.”