PAEMST Celebrates 40 Years of Excellent Teaching!
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan announced the very first recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). Since then, the PAEMST program has honored more than 5,200 educators across the country.
President Reagan's Remarks at the First-Ever Presentation Ceremony for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching on October 19, 1983
View more PAEMST videos and interviews on our Media Page.
Recognition Events Throughout the Years
PAEMST Winners in the State Dining Room of the White House, 2010 (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
A photo from outside the White House by Robert Burtch (Illinois Science, 1990)
Sean Serafino (Connecticut Science, 2016) poses during a White House tour
Rosa Hemphill (Oregon Science, 2001) and fellow awardees outside the White House
Rosa Hemphill (Oregon Science, 2001) and other awardees pose in the White House Briefing Room
Natalie Johnson (Illinois Mathematics, 2017) and a fellow awardee pose with their newly received Presidential certificates
George H. W. Bush arriving to greet awardees, taken by Robert Burtch (Illinois Science, 1990)
Andi Webb (North Carolina Science, 2020) in Washington, DC
Joanne Thompson (Idaho Science, 1984) shaking President Reagan's hand on the White House lawn
Andrew Gatt (North Carolina Science, 2004) poses with Bill Nye in Washington, DC
George H. W. Bush poses with 1990 awardees, taken by Robert Burtch (Illinois Science, 1990)
Dixie Ross (Texas Mathematics, 2011) and former students pose in Washington, DC
Awardees during a professional development session in Washington, DC, taken by Juliana Thomas (North Carolina Science, 2016)
Class Photo of the 1990 Presidential Awardees
Rick Crosslin (Indiana Science, 1990) with dignitaries in Washington, DC
2001 awardees pose with Dick Cheney outside the Eisenhower Executive Office Building
Jessica Tilli (Pennsylvania Mathematics, 2020) and Brandy Hempen (Illinois Mathematics, 2020) pose at the historic Warner Theatre in Washington, DC
President George W. Bush poses for a photograph with the 2004 PAEMST awardees on the North Portico of the White House
2013 PAEMST recipients are greeted by President Barack Obama in the White House
Nancy Watson (Michigan Mathematics, 1991) and Dr. Walter E. Massey, then president of NSF
Collage created by Arthur Kimura (Hawaii Science, 1983)
Bridget Zahradnik (Michigan Science, 2020) and guest pose at the historic Warner Theatre
Erin Schneider (Kentucky Mathematics, 2017) receives her certificate and poses on stage
All 2017 and 2018 Kentucky awardees posing together outside the White House
See past White House Press Releases on our Media Page.
What Winning PAEMST has Meant to our Awardees
Winning the Presidential Award helped me realize how impactful exemplary science teaching is to young and impressionable students, especially the girls. Hooking fourth grade students into the wonders of science set them up for the remainder of their education and life. I went on to win the Milken Family Foundation Award, finalist for Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year, and a NOAA Teacher at Sea on the Sea Scallop Survey. I could not have wished for a more satisfying career.
-Linda Helveston, 1997
Although I had been involved in various forms of educational leadership for my entire teaching career, winning the Presidential Award bumped my game to a whole new level. It connected me to a much wider circle of amazing educators and scientists who enhanced my personal growth as a science educator, as well as opening up many opportunities to become engaged in educational leadership at the national level. It was truly a life-changing event for me.
-Bryan Aivazian, 1996
After winning the Presidential Award, I felt empowered to evolve in ways I could never have anticipated or imagined. While the title alone elevated me into a whirlwind of professional opportunities, the subsequent confidence boost equipped me to reach higher and dream bigger in a manner simply unfeasible before. That in turn had such an incredible impact on my students, showing them that anything is possible for anyone anywhere. To say it was a game-changer is an understatement for the ages.
-Catherine Boniol, 1996
Winning the Presidential Award made me more visible to administrators, which resulted in being invited to more committees. These committees led to a different form of professional development than I had previously experienced. In the past, I had focused or instruction, now I am able to look beyond my classroom to issues affecting all mathematics teachers. Ultimately, the PAEMST led to my being a stronger teacher and stronger advocate for mathematics education.
-Jennifer Salls, 1984
I was proud, as the first teacher of Indian origin to be recognized in the United States in only the 2nd year of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Realizing I had my formal education in India, it was a great honor for my teachers in India as well. The award made me dedicate my whole life, the last 38 years, to promoting excellence in education at all levels. I hope the President's investment in me for the future of our country has paid great dividends.
-Chirakkal Krishnan, 1984
Winning the Presidential Award created an opportunity for me to become friends with outstanding educators around the country. In fact, some of my best friends are Presidential Awardees. This friendship has provided the opportunity to share many ideas about teaching and learning with a wide variety of people. It has also given me credibility within my school system, district, and state that has allowed me to try things and put forward ideas that I would not otherwise have had the chance to share.
-John Benson, 1987
My life changed significantly in 1992 with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching. Prior, I thought I would serve in the classroom until retirement. Instead I ultimately served as President of my state science association, the NSTA Board, and as President of the NSELA. My national involvement is a direct result of the award. It not only furthered my personal service and learning but also established a strong network of colleagues across the country.
-Susan Koba, 1992
Being recognized as a Presidential Awardee provided me a network of colleagues across the country. This network has provided support, encouragement, and a sounding board for many topics. I feel fortunate to have worked with so many outstanding educators.
-Christine Royce, 1997
Winning the Presidential Award broadened my horizons from a small, rural town and connected me to a whole world of national interest in mathematics education. It funded my degree in Educational Leadership and shaped my future career in mathematics leadership. I am now the Mathematics Coordinator at the state level. My career in mathematics leadership has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of my life.
-Catherine Beals, 1998
I am deeply indebted to PAEMST for having received this distinction. This award signifies the importance of a robust science education for students of all ages. I am honored to be among fellow awardees who work collectively to advance the teaching profession and create a science-literate population needed for solving the world’s big problems. I am grateful to all who have inspired me to pursue my passion for personal and professional learning and my pursuit of excellence in science education.
-Trudie Roberts, 2000
The Presidential Award was one of the highlights of my career. It not only validated and acknowledged the teaching I was doing at the time, but it opened doors of influence that led to opportunities at the state and national level. Furthermore, it introduced me to one of the most vibrant mathematics communities around. The friends I made through the PAEMST award are still friends and colleagues today.
-Diana Suddreth, 2000
Winning the Presidential Award allowed me to believe that I could use my passion for teaching and learning to impact others. It opened my mind to all the amazing, hands-on, real-life experiences that teachers were sharing with and providing for students all over the United States. The trip to Washington DC and the PAEMST Award Week exposed this small town girl to the beauty of our capital city. I will never forget all the places I saw and all the people I met. I am still proud to be an educator.
-Rayna Nordstrom, 2001
The award changed my life. It opened up doors that eventually led to me writing books and traveling the world sharing about how to make classrooms better.
-Jonathan Bergmann, 2002
The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching has served as a springboard for opportunities too numerous to mention. It has allowed me to expand my network, broaden my outreach, and advocate for STEM education on a much wider and more diverse scale than ever before.
-Leslie Blanchard, 2002
Without a doubt, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching elevated my voice and impact to "Be the change" in education. Looking back nearly 20 years since my award, PAEMST was the spark that has cultivated my confidence, servant leadership, and it created a platform for me to inform and elevate the positive impacts of STEM around the world.
-Jeffrey Remington, 2002
I became part of something larger than myself, and that changed everything.
-Heather Johnson, 2003
The Presidential Award was not my first award, but it is the award that engaged and pushed me more than just receiving a plaque. Meeting other awardees and alumni from across the country is humbling. It was the application process of reflecting upon my teaching and considering new perspectives and ideas that most impacted my professional life. While the prizes and public recognition are appreciated, it is the expanded experiences through the years that most impacts my students and colleagues.
-Daniel Sitzman, 2003
Early in my career I realized that I had a deep passion for teaching science, and that I needed to share that passion with both my students and colleagues. Since then I have worked tirelessly to provide authentic learning opportunities for my students and support for my peers. Receiving the Presidential Award is truly an honor. It is both a recognition of the work that has been done, and a lighting of a fire for the work that lies ahead of me.
-Christina Hwande, 2016
It is a tremendous honor to receive the Presidential Award and it is a validation of the time and energy it takes to create rigorous and engaging activities that help students to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of mathematics. Receiving this award was only possible because of the support of my wonderful family, amazing colleagues and supportive administration. It encourages me to keep learning and growing and to share my passion with my students and fellow educators.
-Sue Darden, 2016
I am honored and awe-inspired to receive the Presidential Award. I am extremely fortunate and grateful to be able to do what I love and be recognized at such a high level. My accomplishments and achievements have been made possible with the support and encouragement of my wonderful family, mentors, colleagues, and students. It is for them that I continue to challenge myself and my students while striving to foster their curiosity and imagination.
-Tonya Prentice, 2016
It is an honor to be acknowledged for my life’s passion with a Presidential Award. Beyond their parents, children need someone to listen to them and to treat them with respect, and show them doors that they can open and walk through as they get older. As a teacher, I am proud that I have been able to be that someone. This most prestigious award will provide opportunities to work with educators and policymakers to effect positive change in education.
-Lorie Hammerstrom, 2016
It is a great honor to be recognized as a Presidential Awardee and to be included in such an elite group of educators. Teachers are so much more than a source of knowledge for their students -- they nurture, support and encourage their students to help them to reach their full potential. I chose to be a teacher not for the glory or the accolades, but for the love of the profession and to be a guide and mentor for my students. I am proud to be a member of this profession.
-Kristen Taylor, 2017
Receiving the Presidential Award is a monumental honor. I was humbled to be considered for this award knowing the outstanding educators that do not get this opportunity. I am thankful for the positive impact others have had in my teaching career. I appreciate the patience and effort of my mentors, the encouragement of my peers, the support of my administrators, and the incredible understanding of my family. As a Presidential Award winner, I will continue to strive to help students succeed.
-Gregory Smith, 2017
A Presidential Awardee was my physics teacher in high school. Twenty years later he encouraged me to apply for the award myself. A Presidential Award means the opportunity to thank him for changing my life and my classroom. It also means the opportunity to thank the countless teachers and administrators who have helped me. Most importantly, the Presidential Award is an opportunity to thank my students for asking good questions. We will continue to think of ways to ask even better ones.
-Philip Culcasi, 2017
I am humbled to be placed among the amazing educators who have been honored with the Presidential Award. Planning lessons, grading papers, and running classes can be exhausting but opening students up to the wonders of science and grow into independent learners makes it all worthwhile. Winning this award motivates me to continue pushing to improve science education for students within my classroom and beyond.
-Aaron Osowiecki, 2017
The Presidential Award means the culmination of years of mentoring and collaboration from education professionals I admire and look up to. It means educators who taught me with passion and instilled in me a desire to emulate that passion. It is the prodding of administrators and the example of my teaching colleagues. It means a loving, supportive family. It means the curiosity of my brilliant students that drive me to learn more, do more, and be more in my profession. It means the world to me.
-Debbie Morgan, 2017
One of my students told me that learning to face challenges in my middle school mathematics class gave him the confidence to pursue a demanding career. Education equips students with essential critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills. The Presidential Award is an opportunity to celebrate teaching and learning that prepares students to live the lives of their dreams. I feel grateful and blessed to connect with and learn from such a prestigious group of dedicated educators.
-Cicely Woodard, 2017
This award is an endorsement of all that I have worked towards my whole life. I have great passion for my profession. It is the driving force for the hours I spend investing in students, researching effective instructional strategies, creating meaningful lessons, and giving students authentic feedback. Winning the Presidential Award is validation for all that I have invested into becoming the best teacher and teacher leader I can be.
-Wendy Bartlett, 2017
The Presidential Award is an amazing honor. This recognition thanks the wonderful educators I have met along my journey that have inspired me, shaped me, and guided who I am as a teacher. The challenges of being an educator are what make me proud, and it is humbling to see my efforts and passion recognized. This award honors the help and dedication of my friends and family who have supported and encouraged me to study and understand the critical work needed for students in science education.
-Katherine Stevenson, 2018
The Presidential Award illuminates the dedication and hard work put forth by my students, peers, administrators, and many unnamed people that have all contributed to my learning journey. It is with deep gratitude that I am granted this opportunity. Accepting the award propels me to soar even higher than I could imagine in pursuit of re-imagining the mathematical learning environment.
-Patricia Smith, 2018
Fred Rogers said, "One of the greatest dignities of humankind is that each successive generation is invested in the welfare of each new generation." I am proud and honored to represent the passion for teaching and learning that is so prevalent in my collaborative communities of educators. I am thankful for being part of work that is satisfying, joy-filled, and teaches me something new every day.
-Marianne Strayton, 2018
Receiving this award is empowering! It validates the power of students as problem solvers; by providing a variety of tools and opportunities, success in mathematics can be accessible to all. This award belongs to my students, who weren't afraid to dive right in with me. It is a thank you to my incredible mentors, for their patience and encouragement. It also belongs to my colleagues, with gratitude for their collaboration. And to my family, for their love and excitement.
-Megan Smith, 2018
The Presidential Award is truly an honor. The extra work and dedication teachers put in every day so often goes unnoticed and unrecognized. The Presidential Award is a wonderful program that allows those teachers an opportunity to put their work out in the public eye and see how it measures up to other teachers from around the state and nation. It also allows teachers from small schools a chance to shine and bring awareness to all the great things happening in their districts.
-Melodie Murray, 2019
Being selected for the Presidential Award is a source of immense pride. My sixth grade science teacher, Mr. Corbett, saw beyond my shy exterior and challenged me in ways that taught me to believe in myself, ask questions, find answers, and dream big. Reflecting on this award prompted me to realize that Mr. C's legacy lives on through me. I also feel a deep sense of gratitude for my brilliant students, colleagues, mentors, and family for their collaboration, innovation, laughter, and inspiration.
-Cynthia Soule, 2020
The Presidential Award is not only recognition of my teaching, but also recognition of my students and their immense capacity. I teach science because all students deserve the opportunity to explore their world, pursue the answers to their questions, develop transferable skills, and ultimately work toward the future of their dreams. The Presidential Award is a validation of my students' perseverance, curiosity, and enthusiasm, and a statement that all of our students have incredible potential.
-Daniel Adler, 2020
Receiving the Presidential Award manifests the good fortune I've had. This good fortune began as a student whose love of learning was ignited in teachers' classrooms who welcomed and valued me. As a professional, I cherish that my growth and understanding has been deepened in many ways but always with inspiring colleagues. I'm grateful to the students who have been part of my journey and shown me what makes a classroom joyful. I'm honored to join a new community of dedicated educators.
-Heidi Boogert, 2020
The Presidential Award symbolizes the hard work, dedication, love, and passion teachers put forth in their classrooms every day. It is a true honor to receive this award, as it reaffirms a belief I try to instill in all of my students: with a growth mindset, anything is possible. I am truly grateful for all of my students, colleagues, family, and friends that continuously challenge and inspire me to grow professionally. This achievement would not be possible without their faith and trust in me.
-Tracey Curcio, 2020
Receiving the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is humbling, rewarding, and affirming. I feel honored to be recognized with other amazing educators who simply love what they do and are determined to make learning fun, meaningful, and relevant. This award recognizes the hard work of our students, parents/guardians, colleagues, and our families and friends that support and invest in our profession and encourage and challenge us to be excellent in all that we do.
-Michelle De Guzman, 2020
It is truly an honor to be recognized for the Presidential Award, for it represents the hard work of not only myself, but my colleagues, students, and my community. It is a highlight in my professional journey of making school a welcoming place where curiosity thrives and our actions make us better people for the greater good. It is for all the people who knew I could be something so much more than I thought I could.
-Courtney Greene, 2020
The Presidential Award is a validation and celebration of the importance of STEM in elementary education. Our youngest learners enter school with an innate curiosity and a natural ability to build and explore. I am honored and humbled to receive this award and will continue to fervently advocate for equitable STEM opportunities for all elementary students, nurturing their creativity, passion, and wonder, as they are the problem solvers of tomorrow.
-Allison Greenberg, 2020