Hofmeister announces finalists for national mathematics, science teaching award

OKLAHOMA CITY (Sept. 10, 2018) – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister today announced five state-level finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) at the elementary level. Established in 1983, PAEMST is the highest recognition a K-12 mathematics or science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. Awards alternate each year between elementary and secondary teachers.

This year’s finalists are

  • Carrie Akins, Edmond Public Schools
  • Gena Barnhill, Yukon Public Schools
  • Jayci Harris, Byng Public Schools
  • Krystin Lovejoy, Edmond Public Schools
  • Mendy Shepard, Edmond Public Schools

Hofmeister praised the finalists for their exceptional work raising student outcomes in math and science.

“These educators represent some of the finest teaching talent in Oklahoma,” she said. “Their contributions to math and science instruction are helping to place our schoolchildren on the path to a great future, which includes college and careers in high-demand fields like science, technology, engineering and math. I applaud them on receiving this well-deserved national recognition.”

The finalists were chosen by a local selection committee of teachers, district-level personnel, representatives from higher education and past awardees. Each finalist demonstrated a mastery of math and science instruction and effective use of student assessments to improve student learning. Up to two Oklahoma finalists could be named national recipients of the award.

During the application process, finalists were required to submit a 45-minute videotaped lesson plan and a written reflection on their personal teaching methodology, engagement with students and how professional development has affected their classroom instruction.

The national recipients represent all 50 states and U.S. territories. Award winners will receive a paid trip to Washington, D.C., to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities, a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation and a certificate signed by the President of the United States.

The math finalists:

barnhillGena Barnhill

Barnhill is a fifth-grade teacher at Lakeview Elementary School in Yukon. Formerly with Putnam City Schools, she is a member of the OK Math Leadership Class and the Central Oklahoma STEM Alliance Leadership Class. She regularly uses STEM practices in her classroom with a focus on real-world applications.

“I actively seek professional development opportunities to help my students realize that math should make sense,” Barnhill said.


lovejoyKrystin Lovejoy

Lovejoy is a first-grade teacher at John Ross Elementary School in Edmond. She is a Great Expectations instructor and has served on the Oklahoma Academic Standards for Social Studies draft writing team. As part of a reading initiative at her school, Lovejoy visited students’ neighborhoods over the summer to read and share books with them.

“I believe that all children should be given the opportunity to learn and thrive in a loving environment. I also believe that you must reach the heart before you can teach the brain,” Lovejoy said.

The science finalists:

akinsCarrie Akins

Akins is a fifth-grade teacher at Orvis Risner Elementary School in Edmond. She has been a NASA Educator Professional Development Collaborative Ambassador for STEM Education since 2015. She coaches the junior Botball robotics and chess teams at her school.

“STEM is the most valuable piece in the curriculum arsenal that I have. The integration of STEM with other content areas such as reading and social studies helps increase student engagement and adds equity in those content areas,” Akins said.


harrisJayci Harris

Harris is a first-grade and robotics teacher at Homer Elementary School in Byng. She is a scholarship recipient for the Engineering Is Elementary program and won a $50,000 Collaboration Nation grant for her school. She also serves as vice president of the Byng Educators Association and sponsors the robotics club at her school.

“I am most passionate about providing students with opportunities that build skills in critical thinking, perseverance, cooperative learning and creativity,” Harris said.


shepherdMendy Shepard

Shepard is a fourth-grade math and science teacher at Heritage Elementary School in Edmond. She was named the Heritage Elementary Teacher of the Year in 2017 and Oklahoma Elementary Science Teacher of the Year in 2018. She is also a member of the Central Oklahoma STEM Alliance.

“As an elementary teacher, I am building the STEM foundation for my students. Because they are very curious and impressionable, instilling interest at an early age can spark a lasting desire to pursue careers in the STEM fields,” Shepard said.


Back to Top
Share This Page!
Last updated on September 10, 2018