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Four Washington educators are among the 213 mathematics and science teachers named by President Obama Monday as recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

The prestigious award is given to outstanding K-12 science and mathematics teachers from across the country, and awardees represent all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity schools, according to a news release.

The winners are selected by a panel of scientists, mathematicians, and educators following an initial selection process at the state level. Winners receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation to be used at their discretion, and are invited to Washington, DC, for an awards ceremony, as well educational and celebratory events, and visits with members of the Obama administration.

“The recipients of this award are integral to ensuring our students are equipped with critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are vital to our nation’s success,” President Obama said in the news release. “As the United States continues to lead the way in the innovation that is shaping our future, these excellent teachers are preparing students from all corners of the country with the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills that help keep us on the cutting-edge.”

The Washington honorees are:

Grades K-6

Meredith Gannon
Meredith Gannon.

Meredith Gannon was awarded for her science teaching at Sacajawea Elementary School in Vancouver, Wa. Her profile details her use of outdoor learning to improve environmental education in her community.

“Meredith leads students in outdoor education at a local stream where students test water quality, examine macroinvertebrates, and observe environmental changes. Her students present findings annually at Watershed Congress. Meredith coordinates the school’s Salmon in the Classroom program and field work opportunities. At Sacajawea Elementary, she coordinated the implementation of a solar panel array through her Solar 4R Schools Grant.”

Deborah Halperin
Deborah Halperin.

Deborah Halperin was honored for her mathematics work at Seattle’s Laurelhurst Elementary School.

“The Presidential Award is a tremendous honor,” Halperin said on the awards website. “It validates my deep belief that my students are not only capable of complex mathematical thinking, but that this process is inherently satisfying for them as well. Given the opportunity to solve problems in their own way, make connections, find patterns, and discuss their thinking, children will develop a lifelong passion for and ability in mathematics.

Grades 7-12

Scott Cooley
Scott Cooley.

Scott Cooley has been teaching mathematics for 16 years, the past 13 at University High School in Spokane Valley, Wa.

According to his bio, Cooley “creates contextual experiences that bridge students’ prior knowledge into the formation of meaningful concepts. This desire has flourished through opportunities to work with the Riverpoint Advanced Mathematics Partnership as well as through opportunities to help write curriculum for the Central Valley School District. His greatest joy is to watch students enter into a rich problem solving situation and create mathematic structures for themselves that facilitate efficient ways to count and make meaning of input and output patterns.”

Jeffrey Wehr
Jeffrey Wehr.

Jeffery Wehr has taught science at Odessa High School in Odessa, Wa., for the past 12 years, and currently teaches integrated science, biology, chemistry, physics, computer programming, and advanced STEM research laboratory.

“The Presidential Award is such an outstanding honor, and honestly a testament of our students and colleagues,” Wehr said. “It is their diligence, perseverance, and creativity in our laboratories that inspire us all. I am honored that my students see me as a scientist who can help guide them toward their own inner-scientist, that they ignite my passion for STEM, and that our collaboration together has recognized us with our nation’s highest academic award.”

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