The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematic and Science Teaching (PAEMST) are the nation's highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science (including computer science). Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.
Since 1983, more than 4,700 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession. If you know great teachers, nominate them to join this prestigious network of professionals.
For more information or to nominate yourself or a fellow teacher, please visit the PAEMST website.
2021 Idaho PAEMST Winners
Naomi Finnegan teaches Physical Science, Algebra 2, Statistics, Pre-calculus, and Calculus to students in grades 9-12 at Grangeville High School in Grangeville. She also serves as the math department chair. Naomi has also been an ISAT interventionist, a substitute teacher, and a special education student advocate in her career. She has a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Mathematics and Physical Science Education from University of Montana - Western. Naomi has been an active participant in video-based reflection on teaching, lesson studies conferences and workshops. She has mentored student teachers and conducted professional development on google platform for her school district. Her principal claims, “Mrs. Finnegan is a person that genuinely cares and puts herself out there for students. Her desire to help her students shows and the students and staff know it. She has a passion for teaching math and science and shares that passion with her students.”
In response to receiving this award, Naomi says, “Teaching was my career choice from the time I was a little kid. I am honored and humbled to be recognized for something I’ve always been passionate about. I was fortunate to have amazing teachers myself and now to work with incredible students and teachers. Being chosen as a finalist for this award reminds me that I am making a difference. I absolutely love what I do and am thankful for students that motivate me to do my best every day.”
Tanya Johnson is a math teacher at Sugar-Salem High School in Sugar City. She presently teaches Algebra 2, Dual Credit College Algebra, Dual Credit/AP Calculus 1 and Dual Credit Trigonometry. She also teaches a remedial math course and conducts an after school math lab for students who need extra help. Tanya has spent her summers conducting research with the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory and developing alternative methods for students to meet graduation requirements in mathematics. She has a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Mathematics Education with a General Science minor from Boise State University and an Associate's degree in Mathematics from Brigham Young University – Idaho. Tanya teaches refresher courses to elementary and junior high teachers in algebra and geometry and has mentored many student teachers. Her principal noted, “Ms. Johnson has created an engaging learning environment for students. Ms. Johnson consistently evaluates, monitors, and tracks student outcomes to improve instruction and learning. Through her teaching, she has been able to touch and influence the lives of many students.”
In response to receiving this award, Tanya says, “The PAEMST award validates the desire for excellence that dedicated teachers have for themselves and their students. I am honored to be recognized for my continuous passion for young people and for mathematics. I am truly humbled to be considered for such a prestigious award.”
Ashlee Scherer teaches Honors Integrated Year 3, Honors Trigonometry, Honors College Algebra and AP Calculus to students in grades 10 through 12 at Highland High School in Pocatello. Several of her courses are dual credit courses through Idaho State University. Ashlee has been involved facilitating teacher training for the Mathematics Vision Project and for new teacher professional development. and has facilitated trainings in several states. She works closely with school and district leaders to provide instructional support for mathematics at the school and district levels. She has a Master’s degree in Business Administration from University of Phoenix, a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Mathematics and Chemistry Education from Idaho State University, and an Associate of Arts and Science degree from Brigham Young University – Idaho. Her principal describes, “Mrs. Scherer cares about each individual student and always provides student-centered instruction. She employs research based formative assessment methods and sound visible learning practices to ensure students know where they currently are in their learning, where they are going in their learning, and how to close the gap between the two.”
In response to receiving this award, Ashlee says, “For twenty years I have reflected on my teaching strategies and tried to improve. Over the past several years I have had many opportunities to grow professionally and learn from some amazing educators. I am grateful for all I have learned and for others who have been willing to share their knowledge with me. I absolutely love teaching but rarely are my efforts in the classroom recognized by others. This has been a confirmation to me that I am heading in the right direction in improving my teaching philosophy. I am humbled and honored to be a finalist and to represent math teachers in Idaho.”
“Tanya’s creativity can be seen in her lessons every day. She brings the content to life and provides colorful visuals, music, and real-life situations into the learning environment. Students are actively engaged and find meaning and purpose in all of Tanya’s lessons."
-- Principal Susan McInerney, Eagle High School
Tanya Elmer earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education from the University of Idaho. In her twenty plus years of teaching she has taught all levels of Chemistry as well as multiple types of professional development. She possesses the passion, understanding, and experience to effectively embed standards with curriculum and provide multiple strategies to engage students in the classroom.
She has a passion working with students to see them grow both educationally, emotionally, and physically. “It is so awesome to see students that are fearful about taking a challenging class become confident in themselves and what they know by the end of the school year. I also cherish the lifelong relationships I build with the students.”
“Her lessons are creative and relevant to the students. She effectively integrates technology into her classroom instruction and involves students with technology routinely. Most importantly, she is committed to helping every student achieve at the highest level possible for each individual."
-- Principal Sheryl Brockett, Century High School
Meg Fleischmann has a bachelor’s degree in biology as well as a Master’s degree in Physical Education and an Administrative Certificate. She has taught Anatomy/Physiology, Physical Science, Biology, Student Leadership and Outdoor Education courses during her 18 years at Century High School. She has been a leader in her district participating in curricular review, coaching and mentorship, and standards professional development.
She has a passion for giving students opportunities for growth. “The most satisfying part of my job is watching the kids mature through their years of high school. I love seeing a kid that drove me crazy as a rascally freshman grow into a responsible and enjoyable senior. High school is such a big time for growth and personal development. I love being a part of such a profound time in a young person’s life!”
“Maygan is masterful at distinguishing which materials will be most beneficial to students according to their developmental and conceptual levels of understanding. She can simplify concepts for struggling students and provide students who excel with thought provoking and challenging tasks."
-- Principal Lisa Delonas, Pocatello High School
Maygan Sampson served our country in the army and used her GI bill to earn a bachelor’s degree in Biologic Composite for Teaching she went on to also earn a Master’s degree in Public Health. She has taught most science content 7-12 in her 12 years of teaching. Working with the World Health Organization and the Small World Initiative, she teaches her students about the antibiotic resistance crisis and how their research can be part of the solution. Her students are engaged in real and meaningful scientific processes and discoveries every day. Additionally, their exposure and knowledge base has served as a catalyst for opportunities for many students as they have made meaningful connections with adults in the local scientific community.
She has a passion for making a difference for people. “When kids have those ah-ha moments and something suddenly clicks it makes the effort I put into my instruction all worth it. When the lights come on it is so satisfying.”
Winners of this Presidential honor receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation to be used at their discretion, and are invited to Washington, DC, for an awards ceremony, as well educational and celebratory events, and visits with members of the Administration. Idaho’s awardees are shown below:
2018: Vonda Franklin, Washington Elementary School, Boise School District, K-6 Mathematics
2019: Jerod Morehouse, Timberline High School, Boise School District, 7-12 Mathematics
2017: Sean Boston, Capital High School, Boise School District, 7-12 Science
Erin Tiderman-Gross, Rocky Mountain High School, West Ada School District, 7-12 Science
2018: Deirdre Abrams, Donnelly Elementary School, McCall-Donnelly School District, K-6 Science
For previous Idaho PAEMST winners, please visit the PAEMST Awardees webpage.