Last week, Pattengill teacher Emily Theriault-Kimmey traveled to Washington, D.C., where she was honored with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Education. The AAPS News published a story about Kimmey when her award was announced. In the Q & A below, Kimmey shares her experience in Washington.
1. What was it like to meet the President?
It was an amazing experience to be honored by President Obama at the White House. I arrived there in a snowstorm with the other award recipients. President Obama thanked us for the exceedingly important role that we all play as educators in America. He spoke very passionately about improving education, and about the improvement of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education in particular. He took the time to shake our hands and to speak with each of us briefly. His words were extremely inspiring, and I walked away feeling incredibly empowered.
2. What did your students say in the letter?
I was thrilled to be able to hand President Obama the letter that my fifth grade class wrote to him. The students shared their views on how our country should improve education. Their main message to the President was that all children should have the right to attend a good college regardless of ability to pay. The students argued that this right would ensure a successful future for our entire country. The children are very excited to receive a written response from President Obama.
3. Was it fun meeting other recipients of the award?
Having the opportunity to meet and talk with other PAEMST recipients has been wonderful. These educators are advocates for high standards that support equitable education, such as the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards. There seems to be a consensus that high quality teacher education and professional development surrounding these standards must increase in order to deliver quality instruction to all students. Many of the PAEMST recipients plan to stay in touch so that together we can research, collaborate, and share effective teaching practices.
4. Any other people you’ve met on this trip that you would like to share? Places you’ve seen? Professional development?
On my trip to Washington, D.C., I was able to discuss the future of STEM education with experts from the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation. I participated in several extraordinary professional development workshops. These workshops included meeting with leaders from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and the American Institute of Physics. At the end of the trip I was able to meet with Senator Debbie Stabenow and members of her staff to discuss education in Michigan. Senator Stabenow’s staff also hosted my husband and me on an incredible tour of the Capitol.