Receiving the highest honor a teacher can have in the United States brings me a deeply personal sense of accomplishment, pride, and humility. It reminds me of the tremendous responsibility I have to uphold the standards of excellence for which I've been honored. Additionally, the generous financial gift will allow me to develop new programs to involve students and teachers in international conservation and service-learning projects through my nonprofit science education organization, TinkFrog.

Loreen Whalen-McMains Omaha, NE | K-6, Science, 2008

The official biography below was current at the time of the award.

Loreen McMains has been teaching at King Science and Technology Magnet School since the beginning of the 2001-2002 school year. She is a sixth grade science teacher. The professional and personal qualities that Mrs. McMains possesses result in wonderful learning opportunities for her students. She brings science alive in the classroom and creates enthusiasm for learning among the diverse student population. Her presentations, learning activities, and science labs provide problem-solving opportunities that enhance her students' success in high school and beyond. She has high expectations for her students in the areas of achievement and behavior and stresses students' role in their own learning. Mrs. McMains is not afraid to try new teaching methods with her students. She always encourages them to do more to become better students and better scientists. She incorporates innovation with tradition and uses hands-on projects with independent study. She also goes the extra mile, staying after school and coming in on Saturdays to supervise and assist students. Outside the confines of her classroom, Mrs. McMains continually seeks opportunities for extended learning experiences for her students. She has led student groups on science expeditions to local city and State parks and on international expeditions to Costa Rica. She has also had her students collaborate with scientists and teachers on Antarctic science expeditions. Mrs. McMains has presented to fellow district science teachers and state and national audiences. Whether she is at King Science and Technology's feeder schools working to recruit new students, teaching summer and school-year extension courses, working with students through, or in her middle school classroom, Mrs. McMains is considered one of the school's best teachers. She has a B.A. in psychology from the University of Miami and a kindergarten through sixth grade teaching certification.

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