Educator Awards - Presidential Awards for Excellence
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Education Awards

2012 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

State Finalists for Math

Deborah Halperin, 3rd Grade
Laurelhurst Elementary, Seattle
Halperin began teaching at Laurelhurst in 2000 as a math specialist. In 2008 she transitioned to 3rd grade. Halperin’s love for math is contagious, and her students are obviously deep mathematical thinkers. A quality parents and colleagues attribute to Halperin’s skill at posing questions that guide students to discovery rather than providing “right” answers. Parents Fred Rieke and Evan Goldstein observe “Debby’s is a class of third-graders occupying an oceanic range of math abilities. And yet, in a manner that we can only characterize as brilliant, she offers this great diversity of kids, each on their own terms, the deep experience of shaping an ill-formed mathematical question into a profound one, and then looking deeply into it. As much as teaching math, she is teaching her students how to think.”

Kristina Peterson, 5th Grade
Lakeside School, Seattle
Peterson, a recent Einstein Fellow, began her teaching career at the University of Washington before moving to Lakeside School in 1998 where she currently teaches 5th grade math and science. Colleagues describe her as an inspiring mentor whose inventive curriculum has moved others to venture into interdisciplinary offerings. In the classroom, Peterson’s lessons are artfully crafted to offer multiple levels of difficulty but not overwhelm students. “Her classes are packed with conceptual challenge and yet students are so engrossed in the engaging activities of the class that they are not intimidated by how challenging and deep the material actually is,” says Math Department Head Tom Rona. “Kristina finds ways to stretch the already accomplished math students and also empower and inspire students who have little confidence or experience in math.”

Nancy Pfaff, 6th Grade Mathematics
Horace Mann Elementary, Redmond
Pfaff, a National Board Certified Teacher, works as the math teacher in her 6th grade team and with a smaller group of 4th – 6th grade students who did not pass the MSP. She has also worked as a specialist and in a gifted program. Pfaff’s use of self-reflection and goal setting helps her students become active, independent learners who love math. Her 35 years of teaching experience gives her a depth of knowledge in using research to implement best practices that is admired by many, and she continues to look for gaps in the experience of both students and parents, recently planning a family Math Night for the whole school. Principal Megan Spaulding simple states, “After closely working with and observing Nancy’s professional expertise, I can truly say she is one of education’s best.”

State Finalists for Science

Allison Greenberg, 5th Grade
Hawthorne Elementary, Everett
Greenberg, a National Board Certified Teacher, is part of a highly collaborative 5th grade team at Hawthorne. She and her colleagues teach in their particular areas of strength in a model designed to smoothly transition students to the middle school. Greenberg is known for her engaging hands-on units that are accessible to a wide variety of learners. She is an invaluable resource for other teachers, especially in the area of formative assessment. Kelly Jewell, a member of her teaching team, praises Allison, saying “She is thoughtful about her practice, causes us to pause and look at the needs of the whole child, and always deepens our conversations whether around student, instructional practices or content. I am lucky to have a partner in teaching who is willing to give so much of herself to her students, teaching team, school, and district.”

Pam Nolan-Beasley, Kindergarten
Waitsburg Elementary, Waitsburg
Nolan-Beasley began her career in Waitsburg teaching Spanish at the junior high, but for the past 12 years has taught Kindergarten. She is a LASER master trainer and a much sought after teacher of teachers in Waitsburg and across her region. Nolan-Beasley doesn’t just teach science, she creates scientists. A visitor to her kindergarten classroom will encounter students eagerly completing inquiry-based activities and using real scientific equipment. Her superintendent and principal, Carol Clarke, noticed Nolan-Beasley’s talent right away. “From the moment of my arrival in the district, it was clear that Mrs. Nolan-Beasley was an exceptional teacher . . . she works tirelessly to ensure her student and colleagues have access to high quality science education.” 

Debra Strong, 5th Grade
Forest View Elementary, Everett
Strong, a National Board Certified Teacher, teaches 5th grade at Forest View – a position she has held for the past 5 years. Strong’s classroom is teeming with items to fire students’ scientific curiosity. Parents and colleagues marvel at the numerous experiential adventures Strong secures for her students and the resulting increases in student engagement and enthusiasm. Parent Jamie Beth Sheridan observes the lasting impact of these experiences, “Mrs. Strong is a teacher who goes above and beyond education; far exceeding all expectations. She not only helps her students become well-equipped independent managers before they enter middle school, she prepares and excites her students to make an impact for a better, global future.”



   Updated 10/23/2012

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