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Dorn Announces Finalists for National Award
Six secondary teachers to be considered for math and science teaching honor

OLYMPIA — June 28, 2011 — State Superintendent Randy Dorn announced that six teachers from Washington have been selected as state-level finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

The state-level finalists are:

  • Robert Ettinger of Asa Mercer Middle School
  • John Gallagher of Port Angeles High School
  • Kimberly Taylor of Enumclaw Middle School
  • George Christoph of River Ridge High School
  • Andrew Means of Enumclaw Middle School
  • Nathan Shields of Fort Vancouver High School

The finalists were selected in June by a statewide selection committee comprised of content area experts and award-winning teachers. Their nominations were recently confirmed by the national PAEMST program.

“The finalists are all teaching in a wide variety of settings, but they share the common commitment of building great relationships with their students and showing a passion for math and science,” Dorn said. “By focusing on the individual needs of students and getting creative in their classrooms, these model teachers have opened a world of possibilities for their students.”

The national PAEMST program typically announces national award recipients in the spring. State-level finalists are recognized by regional and state math and science associations and will be invited to several events for Washington’s Exceptional Educators during the next year.

For more information on Washington’s PAEMST program.

State Finalists for Science

Robert Ettinger, 8th grade Science
Asa Mercer Middle School, Seattle

Ettinger, a National Board Certified Teacher, has been a lightning rod at Asa Mercer Middle School, where he has redesigned the science curriculum to align with state standards, collaborated across grade levels, mentored other teachers and introduced engaging field trips and activities. The results have been remarkable. In the three years since his arrival, the percent of 8th-grade students meeting standard at Mercer has jumped from 29 percent to 69 percent. Said Principal Andhra Lutz, “This award is about honoring people who have raised the bar in science education. Bob Ettinger is one of these people. He has, in many cases, changed the trajectory of students’ lives by making science exciting and interesting.”

John Gallagher, Astronomy and Geology
Port Angeles High School, Port Angeles

Gallagher is a tireless enthusiast for science and a gifted scientific storyteller whose enthusiasm, creativity and dedication inspire both students and colleagues alike. Since 1995, he has ignited a spirit of inquiry in students of all ability levels through integrated scientific study, hands-on activities, such as star parties and planetarium sessions, and a focused dedication to student success. In addition to his teaching duties, Gallagher is a field course and online instructor for Mississippi State University, presents at numerous profession and community events and even finds the time to provide regular updates to his colleagues on interesting celestial happenings. His former co-teacher Byron Weeks said, “John Gallagher is the best person, teacher and role model that I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with.”

Kimberly Taylor, 7th & 8th grade Science
Enumclaw Middle School, Enumclaw

Taylor is a National Board Certified Teacher whose classroom is literally alive with science. Terrariums, aquariums and various animal inhabitants create an environment that instantly engages students and visitors alike. Her rigorous and imaginative classes, such as forensic science, are much sought after by students of all aptitudes and ability levels. Taylor’s respect for the skills students bring into the classroom and her willingness to share her own academic struggles creates a culture of trust where all students are inspired to greater challenge. Joseph Martin, a manager with the Muckleshoot tribe and parent, calls Taylor a “paradigm shifting educator … who challenges her students to push their limits and build their critical thinking skills with high level work.”

State Finalists for Math

George Christoph, Geometry, Pre-calculus and Advanced Mathematical Reasoning
River Ridge High School, North Thurston

Christoph is a National Board Certified Teacher in his 42nd year of teaching. His skill at varied instruction, combined with his focus on making math accessible and fun, make Christoph a model for all. Colleagues marvel at his seemingly boundless energy. Christoph is always looking forward to his next project. Recently, his students wrote a Pre-Calculus text book for Tanzanian students. His most recent creation, Advanced Mathematical Reasoning, has students launching hot air balloons and transmitting binary codes across campus. Christoph is also an instructor at Saint Martin’s University where his colleague, Jay Jahnsen, was first his student and later his student teacher. “The months I spent in George’s room were more valuable than many of the education classes I was required to take,” Jahnsen says. “He cared about my progress and was excited to work with me during my success and my failures.”

Andrew Means, 7th grade Math & 8th grade Algebra
Enumclaw Middle School, Enumclaw

Means is a National Board Certified Teacher, a masterful instructor and a catalyst for profound growth at his school and across the district. Means builds intellectual confidence in his students with a focus on student accountability and remarkable ability to lead them through self-assessment using probing questions. These techniques have helped set the stage introduce more challenge into the math curriculum at his school. Three years ago, he led a teacher-driven initiative to build more rigor by teaching algebra 1 to all students at Enumclaw Middle School. Colleagues credit this move along with Means’ expert leadership and professional mentorship with their significant gains in MSP scores at all grade levels. Terry Parker, Enumclaw’s Director of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction, praises Means saying, “He is a person of exceptional talent and character. He possesses a special ability to inspire young people in his mathematics classroom . . . and I consider him among the finest teachers with whom I have worked in my career.”

Nathan Shields, Integrated Math & AP Calculus
Fort Vancouver High School, Vancouver

Shields is a National Board Certified Teacher whose creative use of technology, exceptional instruction and approachable sense of humor can encourage even the most reluctant student. Shields teaches math at all levels from algebra 1 to AP calculus. His success with AP calculus has been remarkable. Despite significant increases in the school’s poverty and mobility statistics, the number of students passing the AP calculus test is at a 10-year high. Shields expands his influence through targeted use of technology in the classroom, video production and online collaboration with colleagues. Due in large part to his work, his school has recently received an iPod touch grant. Shields’ ability to put students at ease and help them connect math to their real lives is possibly his greatest asset. One parent observed, “For the first time in my son’s education, he looked forward to learning math and informed me that it was his favorite class.”

About the Award
The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) is the highest honor for a K-12 mathematics or science teacher. Awards are given annually to teachers from each of the 50 states four U.S. jurisdictions (Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; Department of Defense Schools; and the U.S. territories as a group: American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each year the award alternated between elementary and secondary teachers. To be considered for the PAEMST, teachers must be nominated and complete a comprehensive application. A state selection committee reviews completed applications and may forward up to three nominations from each discipline to the national program for consideration. According to the PAEMST Web site, “Teachers are recognized for their contributions to teaching and learning and their ability to help students make progress in mathematics and science.”


About OSPI
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K-12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine Educational Service Districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI does not discriminate and provides equal access to its programs and services for all persons without regard to race, color, gender, religion, creed, marital status, national origin, sexual preference/orientation, age, veteran’s status or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.

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Nathan Olson
OSPI Communications Manager
(360) 725-6015

The OSPI Communications Office serves as the central point of contact for local, regional and national media covering K-12 education issues.

Communications Manager
Nathan Olson
(360) 725-6015

Assessment Communications Manager
Chris Barron
(360) 725-6032


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