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Fennimore teacher earns slot as national award finalist
Danielle Carlson

One of Fennimore’s fine minds is a finalist for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science (PAEMST).

Danielle Carlson, who teaches science at Fennimore Middle and High Schools, is one of five finalists selected by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for the national contest, which may choose one science and one mathematics teacher from each state and four U.S. jurisdictions for recognition.

“I am very excited and honored to be selected,” says Carlson. “I’ve only been here for eight years, so to  be selected while still a relatively new teacher is really an honor.”

Carlson was nominated by Dan Bredesen, the principal at Fennimore Middle-High School.

“I had worked with her for several years and knew that she is an excellent teacher and a real leader in the area,” says Bredeson, who also wrote one of the three letters of recommendation Carlson had to supply after the nomination.

Carlson had to do more than gather up letters of recommendation after having her nomination selected.

“It was a pretty extensive application,” she says.

It also involved creating a video of one of her 45 minute lesson plans, providing a resume, and creating a long written narrative of her work.

All of this was sent to the DPI, who then reviewed entries from across the state, narrowing down the selection to five teachers.

“The selection alternates between middle and high schools one year and elementary schools the next,” Carlson explains.

Carlson is joined as a finalist by Rick Erickson, high school science teacher at Bayfield High School; Sonja Hungness, mathematics teacher at Kromrey Middle School, Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District;          Kristin Michalski, high school physics, Project Lead the Way, and astronomy teacher at East Troy High School; and Kevin Reese, mathematics and Advanced Placement Calculus and Statistics teacher, Clintonville High School.

Applications from Wisconsin’s five finalists will be judged at the national level by a committee organized by the National Science Foundation, which administers PAEMST on behalf of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The selection process utilizes the five Dimensions of Outstanding Teaching drive the evaluation process. They are:

• Mastery of mathematics or science content appropriate for the grade level taught.

• Use of instructional methods and strategies that are appropriate for students in the class and that support student learning.

• Effective use of student assessments to evaluate, monitor, and improve student learning.

• Reflective practice and life-long learning to improve teaching and student learning.

• Leadership in education outside the classroom.

“These teachers inspire a love of learning in their students,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “They engage our kids in the subtleties of science and the marvels of mathematics to bring these subjects into focus for today’s world and in shaping the future.”

Established by Congress in 1983, the PAEMST program recognizes teachers who develop and implement a high-quality instructional program that is informed by content knowledge and enhances student learning. Since the program’s inception, more than 4,700 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession.

The panel may select one teacher of mathematics and one of science to receive a Presidential Teaching Award from each state and four U.S. jurisdictions, with up to 108 awards given each year. PAEMST winners are typically announced and honored the year following the receipt of the application.

Each awardee receives a certificate signed by the President of the United States and a $10,000 award from National Science Foundation. Awardees are honored during events that take place in Washington, DC. These events include an award ceremony, celebratory receptions, professional development programs, and discussions with policy-makers on how to improve mathematics and science (including computer science) education.

Nominations for the 2018 awards, which will recognize kindergarten through sixth-grade educators, are expected to open in fall.