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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #22-17
March 17, 2022
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Announces 2022 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics & Science Teaching

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond honored six outstanding mathematics and science teachers today who are finalists from California for the 2022 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers have persevered through the challenges of the past year and are prime examples of excellence in the teaching of science, technology, engineering, and math to their students,” Thurmond said. “Their incredible efforts inspire STEM and computer science students to think creatively and critically in the classroom in preparation for the challenges of tomorrow.”

The PAEMST program is administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Presidential Award recipients are honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., and receive a $10,000 special award from the NSF.

Awards are given to teachers who teach science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), 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).

Science Finalists

Terri Serey, Orange Grove Middle School, Hacienda La Puente Unified School District, Hacienda Heights (Sixth and Eighth Grades)

Terri has been teaching for 17 years and has presented multiple workshops, including at the California Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) Symposium. She is an induction support mentor for the Walnut Valley Consortium and a coach for the Science Olympiad. Terri utilizes realia, tools, equipment, and badging in her lessons and classes.

Jennifer Trochez, Gates Street Elementary, Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles (Fourth Grade)

Jennifer is a master teacher for Elementary Professional Development for the California NanoSystems Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. Jennifer utilized her 17 years of teaching experience on the Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Committee, where she provided feedback and input regarding district initiatives to improve learning experiences for students and teachers.

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

Phuong teaches STEM and computer science for kindergarten through fifth grade. Her dissertation is titled Virtual School Teachers’ Science Efficacy Beliefs: The Effects of Community of Practice on Science Teaching Efficacy Beliefs. A teacher for 15 years, Phuong is the Science Lead Technology Teacher/Next Generation Science Standards Mentor for Richmond Street Elementary. Phuong has provided professional learning opportunities regarding promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion through science and STEM teaching and has presented at multiple California STEAM Symposiums.

Mathematics Finalists

Anamarie (Mia) Buljan, Fairview Elementary, Hayward Unified School District, Hayward (Second Grade)

Mia has been teaching for 25 years. She has been a district math coach as well as the Coordinator of Professional Development and the Director of Primary Education for the Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative. Mia has written the yearly toolkits for teachers to guide the analysis of student work for the primary Mathematics Assessment Resource Service assessments. She has provided professional development at summer institutes in California, Oregon, and Illinois, and her teaching has been showcased on the Inside Mathematics website, which featured her elementary formative assessment lessons and classroom set-up plans for math talks. Mia was Teacher of the Year in the Hayward Unified School District (2019–20) and was a previous PAEMST California State Finalist in 2016 and 2020.

Therisa Cash, Casita Center for Technology, Science and Math, Vista Unified School District, Vista (Third Grade)

Therisa has been teaching for 29 years and has an International Baccalaureate Certificate in Teaching and Learning. She has served as a master teacher, an induction mentor, a district mentor, and a site math coach and has conducted professional development workshops in her district as well as led several day-long workshops for the National School District in San Diego County. Therisa has worked with the Irvine Math Project and was a teacher leader for the statewide Next Generation Science Standards early implementer initiative.

Leslie Whitaker, Esencia Elementary, Capistrano Unified School District, Rancho Mission Viejo (Third Grade)

Leslie was a Math Teacher on Special Assignment in the Capistrano Unified School District and has worked with a team at the Orange County Department of Education to provide professional development in Cognitively Guided Instruction for transitional kindergarten through fifth grade teachers. A teacher for 22 years, Leslie has presented at multiple conferences, including California Mathematics Council South as well as the Cognitively Guided Instruction Biennial Conference in 2015. She also wrote Canvas third grade math lessons for Capistrano Unified School District distance learning and was a previous PAEMST California State Finalist in 2020.

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 also required to submit a 30-minute video lesson in support of their application.

For more information, visit the CDE Presidential Awards for Math and Science Teaching web page or the PAEMST website External link opens in new window or tab..

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

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, December 26, 2023
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