California Department of Education

05/06/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/06/2024 13:40

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Announces 2024 California Finalists in Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

California Department of Education
News Release

California Department of Education
News Release

SACRAMENTO-State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond honored three outstanding math and science teachers from California today who are finalists for the 2024 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

"These amazing teachers model excellence in how we prepare California students for the challenges and advancements of the future," Thurmond said. "Let me offer my sincere congratulations to these educators, whom we honor for their leadership and instructional practices and how they are inspiring a new generation with passion and talent for science, technology, engineering, and math."

The PAEMST program is administered by the National Science Foundation on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The PAEMST is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government specifically for kindergarten through grade twelve science, mathematics, engineering, and computer science teaching. For 2023-24, those who teach kindergarten through grade six were eligible for the award. Presidential Award recipients are honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., and receive a $10,000 special award from the National Science Foundation.

Awards are given to teachers who teach science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Department of Defense schools, and four U.S. territories (as a group).

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners with the California Mathematics Council and the California Association of Science Educators to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program. Each applicant must display subject mastery, appropriate use of instructional methods and strategies, lifelong learning, and leadership in education outside the classroom. Each candidate is required to submit a 30-minute video lesson in support of their application.

Math Finalist

Suzanne Huerta, Whitaker Elementary School, Buena Park Elementary School District, Buena Park (Fourth and Fifth Grades)

Suzanne has been teaching for 12 years and currently teaches a Special Day Class of fourth and fifth graders at Whitaker Elementary School. She is a member of the District Math Curriculum Leadership Team; the University of California, Irvine (UCI) Math Leadership Team; and the UCI Family Math Leadership Team. Suzanne's classroom has been a Cognitively Guided Instruction Demonstration classroom for the University of California, Los Angeles Math Project. She also has been a Fellow in the Cotsen Foundation for the Art of Teaching program. This has allowed her to spearhead a Special Education Community of Practice in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Suzanne has presented at the California Math Conference and the Orange County Math Symposium on relational understanding of fractions as composite.

Science Finalists

Cherene Fillingim-Selk, Berkeley Arts Magnet School, Berkeley Unified School District, Berkeley (First through Fifth Grades)

Cherene has been teaching for 32 years and is currently the Science Resource for grades one through five. For a decade, she has mentored CalTeach students who explore Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) teaching as a minor. Cherene served as a district Science Curriculum Adoption Committee member each cycle since she began with Berkeley Unified School District. She is also a member of the Climate Action Committee, which works to implement the Stewardship theme into Science and Engineering fairs across the district. The lesson Cherene taught that was reviewed was chosen from the Full Option Science Mixtures and Solutions curriculum and is related to making and separating mixtures. It focused on mixtures and solutions, since we see these features in areas such as cooking, medicine, bodies, minerals, and plants. Cherene enhances the hallway space and her classroom with images and books featuring different individuals who contribute to the world of science. She wants her students to see themselves in the possibilities that science exploration offers because she understands that representation matters. Cherene celebrates both successes and failures because she believes it is important for students to learn how to fail so they are not afraid to take risks.

Dr. Phuong Uzoff, Richmond Street Elementary School, El Segundo Unified School District, El Segundo (Kindergarten through Fifth Grade)

Dr. Uzoff has been teaching for 17 years and is the Project Lead the Way Teacher and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) Specialist for kindergarten through grade five. She has presented at multiple conferences, including a presentation titled "Empowering Student Environmentalists through Stop Motion Animation" at the Computer-Using Educators Conference and another titled "Instill a Culture of Climate Activism at the Elementary School" at the Hawaii University International Conference. Dr. Uzoff provided professional learning opportunities promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion through STEM teaching and increasing accessibility for equitable sensemaking using universal design for learning. She creates a learning environment where you will observe student-centric, experiential learning incorporating four instructional approaches: lecturing, problem-solving, cooperative learning, and engineering design. The lesson observed focused on the broad concept of environmental education and the specific concept of water scarcity and how it can be addressed.

For more information, please visit the CDE PAEMST web page or the PAEMST website .

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Tony Thurmond - State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Monday, May 06, 2024