Five Texas teachers named Presidential Award finalists
Jan 6, 2009
Print this page
Email this article
AUSTIN Five Texas teachers have been named finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

The 2008 PAEMST awards recognize kindergarten through sixth grade science and mathematics teachers whose innovative methods bring teaching to life in the classroom. Next year, the PAEMST program will recognize outstanding grade 7-12 teachers of science and mathematics.

The Texas finalists in elementary science are Amanda Santana from Houston and Candy Ellard of Austin. Santana has been teaching for 18 years and is currently teaching elementary science at The Rice School in the Houston Independent School District. Her principal is Kimberly Hobbs and her superintendent is Abelardo Saavedra.

Candy Ellard, a 27-year veteran, is currently a fifth-grade teacher at Pillow Elementary School in Austin ISD. Her principal is Tonya King and her superintendent is Pat Forgione.

The Texas finalists in elementary mathematics are Barbara Kelly of Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, Amy Sample-Pence of Plano, and Heather Villaloboz of Alvin.

Kelley is a 28-year veteran who taught at Cannon Elementary School in Grapevine-Colleyville ISD. Her principal was Tim Sutton and her superintendent is Kay Waggoner.

Sample-Pence has been teaching for six years and currently teaches fifth grade at Rainwater Elementary School in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD. Her principal is Robert Bostic and her superintendent was Annette Griffin.

Villaloboz has also taught six years and currently teaches third grade at E. C. Mason Elementary School in Alvin ISD. Her principal is Fulvia Shaw and her superintendent is Robby McGowen.

A state panel of master teachers, specialists, and administrators reviewed the applications and chose the outstanding science and mathematics teachers for the National Science Foundation to consider for state finalist status.

Teachers honored for the PAEMST awards are identified from schools in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories, and the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity. Each year, after an initial selection process at the state or territorial level, a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators recommends about 100 teachers to receive the award from a pool of these talented finalists.

The National Science Foundation, under the direction of the White House, approved the Texas candidates as finalists for the national PAEMST award. If chosen as a national winner, the state finalists will receive $10,000 and an all expense paid trip for two to Washington D.C. for ceremonies that include recognition from the president of the United States at the Capital.

Next year, outstanding certified mathematics and science teachers in grades 7-12, with five years or more of teaching experience, are eligible. If you would like to nominate an outstanding mathematics or science teacher, nomination forms are currently available at