Four Minnesota teachers have won the highest awards attainable for a kindergarten through 12th grade math or science teacher in the U.S., the White House announced Monday.
The state's honors in the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching went to teachers in the Mahtomedi, Minneapolis and St. Paul districts. The award is given to standout teachers in those fields from the 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, U.S. Territories and the Department of Defense Education Activity schools.
Minnesota's kindergarten through sixth grade winners are Frances Stang, a science teacher at O.H. Anderson Elementary School in the Mahtomedi district, and Carissa Tobin, who won in the math category for her work at Nellie Stone Johnson Community School in the Minneapolis district as a kindergarten and first-grade teacher.
In the grades 7 through 12 category, Minneapolis South High's Morgan Fierst and St. Paul Central Senior High's Lisa Houdek won awards for science and math teaching, respectively.
Award winners get a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation and their awards at a September ceremony in Washington, D.C.
About the winners
Stang has been a teacher for decades and has taught at O.H. Anderson Elementary for more than 20 years. There, she developed the science curriculum and is the fifth-grade lead science teacher, according to her bio on the Presidential Awards website. She's passionate about environmental science and she's been selected several times as an honored teacher in an awards program for top graduating seniors.
Tobin now teaches Spanish at Webster Elementary in the Minneapolis district and spent nine years teaching first grade in the bilingual Spanish program at Nellie Stone Johnson Community School, as a kindergarten and first-grade teacher, she said in an email. Her bio on the Presidential Awards website described that she has written math curriculum and worked to meet students' needs.
Fierst teaches advanced algebra to grades 9 through 12 and Advanced Placement Statistics to juniors and seniors, according to her bio on the Presidential Awards website. She is passionate about social change and is committed to making spaces where students can learn how math can help them examine the world. In addition, she has presented at conferences and community events, her bio said.
Houdek has been teaching at Central High School since 2002, according to her bio on the school's website. Her bio on the Presidential Awards page noted that she created a Level 1 science curriculum for English Language Learners and mentored incoming teachers, in addition to other duties. A student environmental group she advises was recently honored by St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, according to the bio.