The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), with the National Science Foundation (NSF), announced today that more than 140 individuals and organizations will be honored with presidential awards for their excellence in teaching or mentoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Vicki Willett, first grade teacher, Licking Heights West Elementary, was recognized with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST,) given to kindergarten through sixth grade teachers. Teachers are selected based on their distinction in the classroom and dedication to improving STEM education.
“Being awarded the Presidential Award is a dream come true. It is truly a humbling experience to be considered part of the teaching community, believing in the importance of wonder and discovery that accompanies science. I believe that all children are scientists, and demonstrating their abilities through the Presidential Award process serves as validation. This is my Heisman Trophy, and I could not be more honored and excited to have been chosen,” Willett said.
Awardees represent schools in all 50 U.S. states, Department of Defense Education Activity schools and schools in the U.S. territories American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
"On behalf of the White House I am honored to express the Nation’s gratitude for the tireless dedication that these men and women bring to educating the next generation of scientists, engineers, and mathematicians,” said Michael Kratsios, Deputy Assistant to the President for Technology Policy. “Each day more and more jobs require a strong foundation in STEM education, so the work that you do as teachers and mentors helps ensure that all students can have access to limitless opportunities and the brightest of futures."
During a visit to the nation's capital, award recipients will each receive a presidential citation at an awards ceremony and participate in discussions on STEM and STEM education priorities led by OSTP and NSF. Recipients will also receive $10,000 from NSF, which manages the PAEMST and PAESMEM programs on behalf of the White House.
About the award for K-12 teachersEstablished in 1983, PAEMST is the highest award kindergarten through 12th grade mathematics and science (including computer science) teachers can receive from the U.S. government. The award alternates years between kindergarten through sixth grade and seventh-12th grade teachers. This year, on the award's 35th anniversary, kindergarten through sixth grade teachers will be honored.
Nominees complete a rigorous application process that requires them to demonstrate their excellence in content knowledge and ability to adapt to a broad range of learners and teaching environments. A panel of distinguished mathematicians, scientists and educators at the state and national levels assess the applications before recommending nominees to OSTP.