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California Department of Education News Release
Release: #14-5
January 14, 2014
Contact: Pam Slater
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Congratulates Two California
Math and Science Teachers Receiving Presidential Honors

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated two outstanding California educators recently named by President Barack Obama as recipients of the 2012 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) award. They are among 102 teachers to receive this recognition.

The California mathematics winner is Jamie Garner, a sixth grade mathematics teacher at the Walnut Elementary Education Center in the Turlock Unified School District, Stanislaus County. The California science winner is Alma Suney Park, a sixth grade teacher at Eastside College Preparatory School, a private school in East Palo Alto, San Mateo County.

"These teachers play key roles in encouraging and inspiring their students with not only their expertise, but their talent and dedication," said Torlakson, a longtime science teacher. "They are teaching students who could very well become the next generation of scientists and engineers our country so urgently needs."

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching— the highest honor bestowed by the United States government specifically for K-12 mathematics and science teaching—is awarded annually to outstanding teachers from across the country, Puerto Rico, Department of Defense Education Activity schools, and the U.S. territories. Since the program’s inception in1983, more than 4,200 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession.

The winners are selected by a panel of scientists, mathematicians, and educators following an initial nomination process done at the state level. Each year, the award alternates between teachers of kindergarten through sixth grade and those teaching seventh through the twelfth grades. The recently named awardees teach kindergarten through sixth grade.

Winners of the presidential honor receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation to be used at their discretion. They also are invited to Washington, DC, for an awards ceremony and several days of educational and celebratory events, including visits with members of Congress and the Obama administration. The educators will receive their awards at a Washington, DC, event later this year.

Early this year, Torlakson announced California’s nominations for the 2013 awards. Nominations for the 2014 PAEMST are open through April 1, 2014. For more information about PAEMST, please visit the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching [http://www.paemst.org/] External link opens in new window or tab. Web site.

Jamie Garner teaches at a mathematics and science magnet school where all subjects are taught through the lens of those disciplines. Her classroom features hands-on, project-based learning activities. She leads a special elective class on "future cities," where students are given the opportunity to generate model cities that could exist 150 years in the future. Garner also provides intensive, after-school instruction for students who may be struggling in mathematics. She is a regional coordinator for PI Day (a day to celebrate the value and contributions of mathematics to society). Her video focused on a geometry lesson determining the surface area of three-dimensional solids. Garner has a bachelor of arts, summa cum laude, in liberal studies and a master’s of education, with distinction, in curriculum and instruction from California State University, Stanislaus

Alma Suney Park is a sixth grade teacher at Eastside College Preparatory School, where she has worked since 2005. Originally from Illinois, Park has 13 years of prior teaching, eight of which have been in California. She possesses credentials from Illinois, California, and Michigan. She has a background in the biological sciences and focuses her teaching strategies around problem solving, conceptual understanding, and addressing real-world problems. She has worked with the Teaching Channel to create demonstration lessons for the Common Core State Standards. She has piloted a youth philanthropy project (Project Give) focused on environmental science and climate change. Her video lesson featured an investigation on climate change that capped a unit of study on global warming. She holds degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan.

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5206, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

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