Jan. 14, 2014
By Tara Cavanaugh
Pattengill fifth grade teacher Emily Theriault-Kimmey is currently under investigation by the FBI –– but not because she’s in trouble.
She will make a trip to Washington, D.C. to receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching. Before her weeklong visit, which will include meetings with members of Congress and the Obama Administration, she’s been told she’ll have to receive FBI clearance.
“I’m not sure when I’m going to D.C., and and they won’t tell me until the last second for security reasons,” she said. “It’s all very secretive.”
But what is no secret in the district is that Theriault-Kimmey is an excellent math and science teacher. Since she started at Pattengill 13 years ago, she’s developed a reputation for being a leader among teachers and for making math fun for her students.
“She doesn’t just teach the curriculum,” said Pattengill fifth grade teacher Marie Embry. “She presents it with multiple strategies to help the kids really understand and get mastery of the subject. She can take complex topics and make them understandable for 10-year-olds.”
“I really want the students to be able to explain clearly how they solved a problem and to be able to explain to their classmates. I’m really trying to develop a culture of mathematical discussion within my classroom,” Theriault-Kimmey said.
“I always tell the kids: I am more interested in your process than I am in the answer that you get.”
Theriault-Kimmey was nominated for the award two years ago by Rose Marie Callahan, the district’s K-5 curriculum coordinator.
“She was always willing to do professional development, leading workshops and sharing her practice with others,” Callahan said.
“It’s really great to get ideas from her,” Embry said. “She’s always willing to meet with anybody and do some brainstorming. She does a great job of helping other people, both kids and adults, in a very unpretentious way.”
Theriault-Kimmey is on the district’s Math Advisory Committee and Science Advisory Committee. She’s co-chair of the Pattengill Science Fair and a mentor to teaching interns at the University of Michigan.
“I feel like I need to give back, because so much was given to me,” Theriault-Kimmey said. “I have received so much support from the teachers and staff around me. As I result I would like to help other up-and-coming teachers get their start too.”
She also credits professional development from AAPS and U-M: “They both have really influenced the way I teach mathematics.”
Theriault-Kimmey is not the only AAPS teacher to win such a prestigious honor. Forsythe math teacher Angela Newing and then-Slauson Science teacher Jeff Bradley (who now leads the health and medicine magnet at Skyline) won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching in 2004. In 2002, Tappan teacher Susan Kielb was given the national award, and in 2011, Tappan teacher Ann Marie Nicoll-Turner was a finalist.
Stay tuned to the AAPS News for photos of Theriault-Kimmey’s trip to Washington, D.C.
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