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TEA News Releases Online Aug. 13, 2015
Ten Texas teachers named finalists for 2015 presidential award in math and science

AUSTIN – Commissioner of Education Michael Williams announced today that 10 teachers from across Texas have been named finalists for the 2015 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

The 2015 PAEMST recognizes seventh through twelfth grade mathematics and science teachers whose innovative methods bring teaching to life in the classroom. It is the highest recognition a mathematics or science teacher may receive for exemplary teaching in the United States. The National Science Foundation administers PAEMST on the behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

“These 10 finalists represent the very best of Texas public education,” said Commissioner Williams. “The work of these educators helps to spotlight on a national level the outstanding work taking place in math and science classrooms across our state every school day.”
The 2015 Texas finalists in secondary mathematics are:

  • Jonathan Claydon (Spring Branch ISD) – Precalculus and Calculus AB teacher at Northbrook Senior High School
  • Darla Emerson (Lovejoy ISD) – Statistics teacher at Lovejoy High School
  • Rebecca Cordell Grant (Plano ISD) – Math 8-Honors teacher at Haggard Middle School
  • Patty C. Hill (Austin ISD) – Algebra I and Algebra II teacher at Kealing Middle School
  • Penny Smeltzer (Round Rock ISD) – AP Statistics teacher at Westwood High School

The Texas finalists in secondary science are listed below:

  • Carol B. Brown – AP/Pre-AP Chemistry teacher at St. Mary’s Hall in San Antonio
  • Sheri Cole (Clear Creek ISD) – Seventh grade science teacher at Seabrook Intermediate School
  • Cara Johnson (Allen ISD) – Anatomy & Physiology teacher at Allen High School
  • Mark Misage (Eanes ISD) – AP Physics teacher at Westlake High School
  • Ferleshare S. Starks (Houston ISD) – Biology teacher at Phillis Wheatley High School

To achieve recognition through this program, a teacher first must be nominated for the award. A state panel of master teachers, specialists, and administrators reviewed the applications and chose the most outstanding mathematics and science teachers for the National Science Foundation to consider for national awardee status.  

After the initial selection process at the state or territorial level, a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators may select up to two teachers from each state and U.S. jurisdiction for the national award.

PAEMST winners receive $10,000, a citation signed by the President of the United States, and a paid trip for two to Washington, D.C. to attend recognition events and professional development opportunities. In addition, all of the 2015 finalists for Texas will also be recognized by the State Board of Education. For additional information about the PAEMST program, visit