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 San Diego County Teachers Named Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

​Two San Diego County teachers are finalists for the 2020 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

Khamphet Pease, who teaches at Wilson Middle School in the San Diego Unified School District, is a mathematics finalist. Pease has been teaching for 14 years and is currently a grade six Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics teacher. At her site, she is teaching Introduction to Coding; Gateway to Technology: Design and Modeling, Automation and Robotics; and Computer Science for Innovators and Makers. Pease is a champion for underrepresented girls in the STEM fields. From 2014 to 2016, she mentored 16 high school girls from schools across San Diego County to design, program, and build a microlab experiment that was deployed to the International Space Station to test zero gravity.

Marlys Williamson, who teaches at Wolf Canyon Elementary in the Chula Vista Elementary School District, is a science finalist. Williamson has been teaching for 13 years and is a fifth-grade teacher. She has been a member of the grade five instructional leadership team, led professional learning with a focus on the Science and Engineering practices, led the creation of Wolf Canyon's Design Den makerspace, and mentored student teachers from multiple teaching programs. Williamson's class is featured on the San Diego County Office of Education website, and she has presented at multiple Next Generation Science Standard rollout events.

"These teachers are incredible educators, role models, and mentors to all those around them, and through mastery of their craft, they inspire students to study math, technology, engineering, and science — including computer science," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. "They're bright stars and prime examples of excellence in our educational system, and we hope that all students can enroll in great STEAM and computer science programs with educators like them, to prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow."

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners with the California Mathematics Council and the California Association of Science Educators to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program. Each applicant must display subject mastery, appropriate use of instructional methods and strategies, lifelong learning, and leadership in education outside the classroom. Each candidate is also required to submit a 30-minute video lesson in support of their application.

The PAEMST program is administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Presidential Award recipients are honored at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., and receive a $10,000 special award from the NSF.

Awards are given to teachers who teach science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Department of Defense schools, and four U.S. territories (as a group).

For more information, visit the CDE Presidential Awards for Math and Science Teaching web page or the PAEMST website.