Three Edmond teachers are among five state-level finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) at the elementary level. 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.
This year’s finalists are
- Krystin Lovejoy, Edmond Public Schools
- Mendy Shepard, Edmond Public Schools
- Carrie Akins, Edmond Public Schools
- Gena Barnhill, Yukon Public Schools
- Jayci Harris, Byng Public Schools
“These educators represent some of the finest teaching talent in Oklahoma,” said Joy Hofmeister, State Superintendent of Instruction. “Their contributions to math and science instruction are helping to place our schoolchildren on the path to a great future, which includes college and careers in high-demand fields like science, technology, engineering and math. I applaud them on receiving this well-deserved national recognition.”
Lovejoy is a first-grade teacher at John Ross Elementary School in Edmond. She is a Great Expectations instructor and has served on the Oklahoma Academic Standards for Social Studies draft writing team. As part of a reading initiative at her school, Lovejoy visited students’ neighborhoods over the summer to read and share books with them.
“I believe that all children should be given the opportunity to learn and thrive in a loving environment. I also believe that you must reach the heart before you can teach the brain,” Lovejoy said.
Shepard is a fourth-grade math and science teacher at Heritage Elementary School in Edmond. She was named the Heritage Elementary Teacher of the Year in 2017 and Oklahoma Elementary Science Teacher of the Year in 2018. She is also a member of the Central Oklahoma STEM Alliance.
“As an elementary teacher, I am building the STEM foundation for my students. Because they are very curious and impressionable, instilling interest at an early age can spark a lasting desire to pursue careers in the STEM fields,” Shepard said.
Akins is a fifth-grade teacher at Orvis Risner Elementary School in Edmond. She has been a NASA Educator Professional Development Collaborative Ambassador for STEM Education since 2015. She coaches the junior Botballrobotics and chess teams at her school.
“STEM is the most valuable piece in the curriculum arsenal that I have. The integration of STEM with other content areas such as reading and social studies helps increase student engagement and adds equity in those content areas,” Akins said.
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 and 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.
During the application process, finalists were required to submit a 45-minute videotaped lesson plan and a written reflection on their personal teaching methodology, engagement with students and how professional development has affected their classroom instruction.
The national recipients represent all 50 states and U.S. territories. Award 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.
By: Steffie Corcoran/Director of Communications SDE