Past Awardee Highlights

Charles Bertsch

Charles Bertsch

Montana | 2008

Charles has been an educator in Montana for over 30 years. In that time, he has focused on bringing unique and engaging experiences directly to students. His weekly Lego Robotics club featured a NASA electrical engineer as a guest professor. Charles has also worked with Native American high school students struggling with science at a six-week summer session. In that time, he empowered them to express their ideas, build models, and work together to solve problems within the science classroom. Outside the classroom, Charles has served as a member of NSF’s Rural Systemic Initiative Steering Committee.

Valerie Jones

Valerie Jones

Georgia | 2013

Dr. Valerie Camille Jones has been a Mathematics educator for over 15 years. In that time, she has taught both students and teachers across the world. Dr. Jones has trained over 17,000 teachers, globally, on her instructional methods and has developed video modules for Teach for America to showcase best teaching practices. She has coached her students to a MATHCOUNTS national championship and served as a member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Accreditation Committee.

Amy Harker

Amy Harker

Ohio | 2001

After winning the PAEMST award, Amy Harker was able grow in her role as an instructor as well as outside of the classroom. Amy recently served as a participant on the Ohio Governors Executive Workforce Board and as a liaison for the Ohio Department of Education. Amy has also had the opportunity to present her unique, student focused programs, across the country. Amy credits PAEMST for giving her “the courage to reach out beyond the classroom.”

Lali Thundiyil

Lali Thundiyil

US Territories | 2019

Lali immigrated to Guam in 1988 and became a U.S. citizen in 1996. Since then, Lali has been teaching science at FB Leon Guerrero for 23 years. Lali’s classroom is not bound by the brick and mortar walls of the school building; he regularly takes his classes outside to collect plant and animal specimens for hands-on learning experiences. Lali has received multiple awards in Guam for his dedication to both teaching and the environment, including the My Favorite Teacher award from the Guam Sylvan Learning Institute.

Kentaro Iwasaki

Kentaro Iwasaki

California | 2011

Kentaro was inspired to teach after experiencing, first-hand, the disparities between public and private school education in California. He taught high school mathematics, ranging from Algebra to AP Calculus for over 15 years. In that time, he served as both a teacher and the department head. As department head, he increased the number of students enrolled in AP Mathematics five-fold, focusing on increasing the participation of underrepresented groups. Kentaro stepped away from the classroom to serve as the Associate Director of Learning and Teaching for a nonprofit for seven years before becoming a doctoral student studying education leadership at Harvard.

Martin Briggs

Martin Briggs

Indiana | 2014

Martin Briggs has been a teacher for over 40 years. In that time, he has taught a variety of classes ranging from reading and writing to math and science. Martin provides professional development for the Mastering Videos project, which is designed to help teachers cultivate algebra readiness and science skills in real-world scenarios for their students. Martin has also had the opportunity to share his experiences at NCTM conferences on the state, regional, and national levels.

Elizabeth Trummel

Elizabeth Trummel

Illinois | 1996

Elizabeth “Betty” Trummel has been an example of a lifetime learner her entire career. A 35-year educator, Betty has dedicated her life to science research, communication, and outreach. Since winning the PAEMST award in 1996, Betty has had the opportunity to share science presentations and her teaching experiences around the world. She was also selected as one of 78 women, internationally, to participate in the Homeward Bound expedition to Antarctica in 2016.

Chance Nalley

Chance Nalley

New York | 2013

Chance has taught Mathematics in New York for almost 20 years. In that time, he has taught a variety of mathematics courses ranging from precalculus to statistics. Throughout his teaching career, Chance has worked with at-risk student populations, inspiring them to ask “why” and delve deeper into the lesson. Chance strives to integrate discussion, exploration, technology, and hands-on experiences into student learning. Chance believes that good teaching “requires reflection, support, and continued growth on the part of the educator.”

Dawn O'Connor

Dawn O'Connor

California | 2007

After winning the PAEMST award, Dawn began to serve as an advocate for marginalized student communities in science. Dawn transitioned out of the classroom and into the role of a mentor for The New Teacher Project where she was able to support 16 teachers in viewing science education as a social justice issue. Dawn was later asked to become the Director for the California Science Project for the East Bay Science Project. Dawn also gives back to PAEMST by serving as a mentor to applicants and as a state reviewer.

Michael Pope

Michael Pope

DoDEA | 2017

Michael Pope has dedicated his 21-year career to teaching around the world. For 14 years, Michael has taught mathematics and science at Zama Middle High School in Japan. Michael is no stranger to adventurous learning. He has traveled to Colombia to study STEM teaching across genders, South Africa to study ways to incorporate global education into classrooms and, and most recently, to Svalbard—a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, to study climate change. Most recently, Michael was selected as a Global Teacher Prize Top 50 Finalist for 2020.

Dymphnia "Dym" Paulyn San Nicolas-Diaz

Dymphnia "Dym" Paulyn San Nicolas-Diaz

US Territories | 2019

Not only has Dym been an educator for 25 years, she is also a commissioned officer in the United States Army Reserve and an Operation Iraqi Freedom War Veteran. Dym teaches high school mathematics as well as mathematics at Guam Community College. Dym is also involved in the Guam Department of Education in multiple committees. This November, we thank Dym for her service both in the classroom and our military.

Karina Moran

Karina Moran

Florida | 2018

Throughout her 20-year teaching career, Karina has used mathematics to instill a growth mindset in all her students. While she primarily teaches mathematics, Karina also uses her experiences as a non-native English speaker to teach K-12 English for speakers of other languages.

David Upegui

David Upegui

Rhode Island | 2017

David Upegui is a Latino immigrant who, in his own words, “found his way out of poverty through science.” David has gone above and beyond to accomplish his mission of empowering students by teaching them to explore and question the world providing them with unique experiences such as visits from university professors. David also coaches and mentors teachers within his state.

Joseph John Muna

Joseph John Muna

US Territories | 2018

While Joseph was awarded the PAEMST award for mathematics, he has dedicated his 10-year teaching career to teaching all subjects to fourth and sixth graders. Joseph has also spent the last five years serving as the coordinator for Math Court and offers afterschool programs to prepare students for mathematics competitions. Joseph’s teaches in a 21st century classroom equipped with a SMARTBOARD and iPads for his students. Currently, Joseph is changing his approach to teaching, focusing on project-based learning in order to make the content more relevant and meaningful to his students.

Jennifer Williams

Jennifer Williams

Louisiana | 2006

Since receiving the PAEMST award, Jennifer Williams has written numerous magazine articles and a book on science education, served on state and national policy committees, and was a two-time chairperson for the STEM Forum & Expo hosted by NSTA. In addition to helping set academic goals for her school, she also sits on workforce development committees to help local business and industry build STEM pathways for the state of Louisiana.

Patrick Honner

Patrick Honner

New York | 2013

Since winning the PAEMST award in 2013, Patrick Honner has gone above and beyond to help students and teachers understand the many ways to use and teach mathematics. Patrick is an active teacher-leader; coaching teachers, facilitating workshops and teaching a wide-range of mathematic subjects. Patrick has also been able to share his passion for mathematics through speaking opportunities, writing, and art.

Marni Landry

Marni Landry

Arizona | 2013

Marni Landry has dedicated her entire career to furthering STEM education. During her 16 years at Paradise Valley High School, Marni provided her students with global and cross-cultural learning experiences by traveling with her Biology club and academic decathlon team to China, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador and Mexico. Currently, Marni serves as the manager for Strategic Educational Alliances at Grand Canyon University.

Luke Wilcox

Luke Wilcox

Michigan | 2013

Awardee, Luke Wilcox, has made several contributions to the world of mathematics both before and after winning the PAEMST award. Luke has been involved in the development of several statistics textbooks and is currently writing the Teacher’s edition of The Practice of Statistics, which is the most widely used AP Statistics book in the country. Most recently, Luke was recognized as Michigan’s 2017-2018 Teacher of the Year.

Sharon Hessney

Sharon Hessney

Massachusetts | 2009

Sharon Hessney has spent her 20+ year career serving others. She has served as a coach to dozens of Math Competition in Modeling teams and has raised over $60,000 for female students to attend Mount Holyoke's SummerMath program. This PAEMST awardee has continuously used mathematics to teach students how to "make informed decisions as productive and successful citizens of our democracy."

Melissa Collins

Melissa Collins

Tennessee | 2008

PAEMST awardee Melissa Collins has taught at John P. Freeman Optional School in the Memphis City Schools since 1999. While holding a variety of roles both within her school and within the teaching profession, her overall goal has been to educate and mentor urban students as they become future scientists and mathematicians. Most recently Melissa fulfilled a vision she had a year ago, holding a white coat ceremony for students entering the STEM club. These 3rd-8th grade students will embark on a year of STEM activities and competitions.

Jay Garvey Shah

Jay Garvey Shah

Wisconsin | 2016

As a PAEMST alum and a teacher for over 15 years, Jay Garvey Shah has had an impact on STEM education both at home and abroad. Shortly after receiving the PAEMST award, Jay traveled to Ethiopia where he taught sixth grade mathematics and science. Jay has also received an Outstanding Educator Award from the 100 Black Men organization and the Franklin H. Williams’ Returned Peace Corps Volunteers award for commitment to community service.

K. Renae Pullen

K. Renae Pullen

Louisiana | 2008

Since receiving the PAEMST award, K. Renae Pullen has taught undergraduate students elementary science methods for Louisiana State University, served on local, state, and national committees, and presented at numerous workshops and conferences. She was awarded a fellowship from the Fund for Teachers to study creativity and STEM in Spain, and was a consulting expert on the National Academies Press (NAP) book on science assessments, "Seeing Students Learn Science: Integrating Assessment and Instruction in the Classroom." K. Renae currently serves as a member of the Board for Science Education National Academies of Sciences and a NSTA/NCTM STEM Ambassador.

Cindy Hasselbring

Cindy Hasselbring

Michigan | 2005

Cindy Hasselbring used PAEMST’s $10,000 award to become a private pilot. With her pilot’s license in hand, she now serves as the Senior Director for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) where she is working to inspire students to enter careers in aviation and aerospace. Partnering with Purdue University, Cindy is currently field-testing a comprehensive 4-year aviation STEM curriculum in 29 high schools that are aligned to rigorous math and science standards. Once finalized, she plans to make the curriculum available to all schools at no charge.

Wayne Fisher

Wayne Fisher

North Carolina | 2002

PAEMST helped to launch Wayne’s trajectory as a leader in his large urban school district. He transitioned from high school physics teacher to be the first Elementary Science Specialist in his district, with a charge to nurture and grow the elementary science program. He later received the 2016 Outstanding Administrator Award for this work from the North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education (SMT) Center. Along the way, he was also a finalist for the NASA Astronaut Class of 2004, making it to the final cut of 37.

Janice Mak

Janice Mak

Arizona | 2014

Just two years after becoming a PAEMST awardee, Janice Mak now serves as the president of the Computer Science Teachers Association Arizona Chapter, and was recently appointed to National Center for Women & Information Technology’s (NCWIT) Executive Council for the K-12 Alliance. In addition, Janice was selected by the Governor to serve on the Arizona State Board of Education in 2016. She is also the co-founder of the Computer Science for Arizona (CSforAZ) task-force that works on convening stakeholders to advocate for K-12 computer science education.

Naveen Cunha

Naveen Cunha

Texas | 2002

As a PAEMST awardee and Einstein Fellow alum, Naveen Cunha started an award-winning STEM academy in his school district, where he teaches Principles of Applied Engineering as well as Robotics Programming and Design. He continues to support STEM educators nationwide as an evaluator for the Einstein Fellowship.

Crystal McMachen

Crystal McMachen

South Dakota | 2014

PAEMST awardee Crystal McMachen now serves as the President-Elect for the South Dakota Council of Teachers of Mathematics. She is also a virtual coach and mentors fellow STEM teachers across South Dakota. Most recently, Crystal was selected to be a member of the South Dakota Mathematics Leadership cohort, sponsored by the South Dakota Department of Education.

Denise Scribner

Denise Scribner

Kansas | 2015

Denise Scribner has continued to be a motivating force for STEM and recently received the 2017 Excellence in Teaching Agriculture in the Classroom and the 2017 Henry Ford Innovation Teacher of the Year Grand Prize. Her innovative instructional methods and strategies continue to support 21st century learning through experiential learning and problem solving.