Educator Awards - Presidential Awards for Excellence
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Education Awards

2013 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

State Finalists for Science

Dr. Isabel Lee Holt
International School, Bellevue
Holt has spent the majority of her career teaching 10th grade and AP Biology at International School in Bellevue. Peers describe Holt as “extremely creative and always on the cutting edge of technology in the classroom.” Her school has won the Washington Achievement Award in Science for the past two years, and Principal Jennifer Rose says, “Dr. Holt has been foundational in helping our school and our students achieve that success.” Holt has a clear passion for all students and dedicates the extra time needed to ensure that her students are learning the material at a deep level. Students appreciate her ability to accurately depict real-world applications of concepts learned in her classroom. They say she “challenges us to push ourselves beyond basic level of comprehension the school district demands of us.”

Vincent Santo Pietro
Shorecrest High School, Shoreline
Santo Pietro has been a “go-to” member of the Shorecrest High School faculty for 18 years. “He is not only one of our school leaders, but he also believes in the importance of being a team player and partner,” says Principal Pat Hegarty. Santo Pietro goes above and beyond to provide his students with the best education possible. In addition to his honors chemistry courses, Santo Pietro also teaches a five-credit section of Astronomy 101 for his students through the University of Washington. Parents praise him saying, “Mr. Santo Pietro searches to ignite a spark of interest in each student,” and “he sees personal growth as a never-ending process.” He encourages students broaden their perspective through travel and to learn about and respect other cultures.

Lois Sherwood
Port Townsend High School, Port Townsend
Sherwood is a National Board Certified Teacher and has been teaching for the Port Townsend school district for over twenty years. Colleagues and parents describe her as a “master teacher” and “a teacher who attends to the needs of every child in the room.” In addition to providing extra time for her students pursuing honors science credits, Sherwood mentors new science teachers to help them perfect their curriculum and classroom dynamics. Principal Carrie Erhardt describes her leadership skills as “outstanding.” Sherwood is known for her high standards. Students praise her saying, “She encouraged me to push myself harder than I would have otherwise and it really paid off when I got to college,” and “she taught me to love science!”

Gretel von Bargen
Skyline High School, Issaquah
In her ten years as International Baccalaureate Science Instructor, von Bargen, who is also a National Board Certified Teacher, has made a huge impression on students, parents, colleagues and administrators. Principal Lisa Hectman says, “Ms. von Bargen is one of those teachers who possesses a ‘gift’ for reaching and engaging students.” Von Bargen uses unique instructional methods such as dance and role-play to teach scientific principles and help students develop both critical thinking skills and creativity. Parents and students recognize that she “makes a strong effort to keep abreast of the most recent discoveries in her field.” Alumni of von Bargen’s classes report that their high school experiences have prepared them to tutor at the college level. Von Bargen also advises Skyline’s after school biology club and has created a dynamic class web page.

State Finalists for Math

George Christoph
River Ridge High School, North Thurston
Christoph’s teaching career spans four decades. He is a National Board Certified Teacher who currently teaches Algebra and Pre-calculus at River Ridge High School. He is universally acknowledged as challenging, but patient. Student Emily Nguyen says, “Mr. Christoph does an impeccable job at teaching us the lesson, giving out an assessment, evaluating the results, monitoring our development, and improving student learning. My level of understanding has risen to the point where I’m able to aid others.” Administrators appreciate that, “His skill as a teacher of teachers is every bit as polished as his ability to teach his students.” Colleagues are continually impressed by his innate desire to take on large projects. He started a lecture series for math teachers to discuss deep mathematical ideas. During the 2009-10 school year, Christoph and his pre-calculus students even wrote a text book for secondary students in Tanzania.

Michael Conklin
University High School, Central Valley (Spokane)
Conklin has spent over half of his 14 year teaching career at University High School teaching a wide range of classes, from 9th grade Math Support to senior level AP Calculus. He is an insightful instructor, connecting to students on a personal and intellectual level. Colleagues say Conklin “possesses mathematical ability, intellectual curiosity, responsiveness to students and pedagogically rich teaching practices.” He is also the department chair and a National Board Certified Teacher. “Michael is an out of the box thinker who is able to create meaningful connections to bridge between content areas and diversity within our school faculty,” says Principal Alan Robbins. “In the classroom, he creates an environment that is safe, warm and accepting while at the same time it is rigorous, engaging, and creative.”

Danielle Maletta
Eastside Catholic School, Sammamish
Maletta, a National Board Certified Teacher, has been teaching Pre-Calculus and AP Statistics to high school students at Eastside Catholic School for four and a half years. She was selected by her math colleagues to serve as the department chair. Administrators describe Maletta as “an enthusiastic educator who engages students in the learning process. She is selfless in giving of her time and energies to work with and support students.” Sister Mary Tracy, president of Eastside Catholic School, says “Danielle Maletta is among the top five percent of the most valuable teachers to ever work at Eastside Catholic School.” Maletta was selected by two consecutive graduating classes as the teacher who made the biggest impact on their success.

Tracie Shepard
Emerald Ridge High School, Puyallup
Shephard, a 23-year teaching veteran and National Board Certified Teacher, has spent 13 years at Emerald Ridge High School teaching pre-calculus and Collection of Evidence classes for seniors who have not passed state math exams. Her colleague, Lisa Kusche describes Tracie as “a gifted and talented math teacher. She is a master at designing powerful and engaging learning experiences. Tracie Cares deeply about individual students. Tracie is a woman of character.” Shepard is very committed to the teaching profession and often mentors student teachers. She is described as having the utmost respect for every student, parent and person that walks through her classroom. Principal Brian Lowney says, “Tracie’s combination of true compassion, high standards for each student and unbelievable teaching skill really sets her apart as an educator.”


   Updated 10/24/2013

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