SuperTalk Mississippi

Mississippi teachers win Presidential Award

Angela August (left) & Angela McKinnon. Photos courtesy of MDE.
Angela August (left) & Angela McKinnon. Photos courtesy of MDE.

Two Mississippi teachers will be honored with presidential awards for excellence in teaching or mentoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Angela August of the Gulfport School District and Angela McKinnon of the DeSoto County School District will represent Mississippi during the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) Program. PAEMST is the highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th-grade mathematics or science, including computer science, teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States.

They are among the more than 140 teachers nationwide that will receive the award.

August has taught first through fourth grade for 22 years, 14 of which have been at Twenty-Eighth Street Elementary School. (She is currently serving as the school’s principal).  As an instructional leader, she has had the opportunity to team teach, plan, and model lessons.

August implements engaging lessons with a focus on mathematical discussions involving problem solving skills. Students are encouraged to discover answers by using a variety of manipulatives and strategies. As the facilitator, she motivates students to discover their answers by using higher-level questions, prompting them to think about different strategies to solve the problems.

Teachers, coaches, administrators, and state-level visitors have observed August’s teaching. She has mentored in many capacities, helping teachers and student teachers understand the state standards and implement lessons that require abstract thinking and higher-level discussions. August has presented numerous professional development sessions at the school and district level. She has also presented at the national level.

“I am honored to receive this prestigious award. I am grateful to my colleagues, administrators, students, family members, and community that have inspired me to continue growing and advancing in my field. This award validates that when you have a risk-free environment with high expectations and engaging lessons, all students will not only reach but exceed their potential. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to work with amazing students on a daily basis,” August said.

McKinnon has been an elementary educator for 25 years. The last 23 years she has taught fifth grade mathematics and science in the DeSoto County School District. She has been teaching at Lewisburg Elementary School for the last 12 years.

As Lewisburg’s “Science Guru,” McKinnon has served as the fifth-grade lead science teacher, assisted with the school science fair, and judged for other schools in her district. She has also been a mentor to new teachers, served on the Mississippi Editorial Advisory Board for Macmillan/McGraw-Hill publishers, and her students have consistently scored 100 percent proficient and advanced on the state science test.

For several years, McKinnon served on the content, bias, and data review committees for the Mississippi Department of Education to assist in the development of the state test. She said the Presidential Award is the greatest achievement of her teaching career.

“Receiving this award validates my passion of bringing science education alive at the elementary level. My hope is that I am able to instill a love of science in my students and inspire them to become life-long learners. I am so humbled and honored to have been chosen as a recipient of the highest honor bestowed upon teachers. I am excited to be able to represent Lewisburg Elementary and the great State of Mississippi,” McKinnon said.

State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright commended these two teachers for their handwork and congratulated them on receiving this award.

“I congratulate these award recipients who represent Mississippi and our teaching profession admirably. Mississippi’s teachers do an incredible job of setting high expectations for students, and it’s because of teachers like these that the state has been able to achieve unprecedented outcomes,” Dr. Wright said.

Recipients will also receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation, which manages the PAEMST program on behalf of the White House.

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