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PLTW Teacher in Washington to Receive Highest Honor

WASHINGTON - Project Lead The Way Gateway To Technology teacher Kathleen (Kathy) Jones is in Washington, D.C., this week to receive the highest honor given to teachers in the United States. Just two weeks ago, Jones was notified that she is one of only 97 U.S. teachers to win the 2011 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). She was selected as one of two teachers for the award in the state of Florida.

A math teacher at Surfside Middle School in Panama City Beach, Fla., Jones is also a certified PLTW master teacher for the Gateway To Technology curriculum, a program which she has taught alongside her math classes at Surfside Middle School since 2008. Gateway To Technology is PLTW’s middle school project-based curriculum, designed to introduce students to STEM subjects and provide them with a solid foundation for further STEM learning in high school and beyond.

“I believe teaching Project Lead The Way played a part in my receiving of this award,” Jones told PLTW after learning of her award. “Teaching Project Lead The Way has allowed me to gain more depth of knowledge into engineering and has allowed me to provide my students with hands-on activities. I always integrated hands-on, engineering-based projects into the math curriculum. It’s about tying the two together and making sure to keep the rigor and relevance in math class.”

As part of the nomination and application process, Jones had to submit a 45-minute video showing students involved in a math activity and a 20-page document detailing the 12 key points of successful teaching, a full explanation of the impact on student learning, and the involvement of the local community. The 45-minute video showcased a project Jones adapted from the PLTW curriculum to her math class.

“To learn linear and quadratic equations, my students did water rockets and measured how high the rockets took off, experimenting with different amounts of water and air pressure. They were able to determine the maximum amounts of water and air pressure to get maximum apogee,” Jones explained.

The ceremonies in D.C. begin today. Jones will receive her $10,000 award and take part in professional development, both sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the group behind the PAEMST. She and the other teachers will also get a chance to talk with Congress and meet with President Obama and his Administration during a White House tour later this week.

According the PAEMST website, the “award recognizes those teachers who develop and implement a high-quality instructional program that is informed by content knowledge and enhances student learning.”

“Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education. The National Science Foundation administers PAEMST on behalf of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.”

Please join Project Lead The Way in congratulating Kathy Jones on this highest honor, the 2011 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.