Two Florida Teachers Receive Presidential Award

President Honors Outstanding Math, Science Teachers


Two Florida public school teachers have been awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the nation’s highest award for K-12 teachers in those fields.

Becky Pittard, a fourth and fifth grade teacher specializing in math at Pine Trail Elementary in Ormond Beach, and Wendy Shelden, a fourth grade specializing in science at Ralph Williams Jr. Elementary in Rockledge, were honored by President Obama on July 9.

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is awarded annually to the best pre-college-level science and math teachers from across the country. The winners are selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians and educators following an initial selection process done at the state level. Each year the award alternates, going either to science and math teachers in grades K through 6 (as it is this year) or to those teaching in grades 7 through 12.

Winners of the Presidential Teaching Award receive $10,000 awards from the National Science Foundation to be used at their discretion. They also receive an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for a White House awards ceremony and several days of educational and celebratory events, including visits with members of Congress and science agency leaders.

"There is no higher calling than furthering the educational advancement of our nation’s young people and encouraging and inspiring our next generation of leaders," Obama said. "These awards represent a heartfelt salute of appreciation to a remarkable group of individuals who have devoted their lives and careers to helping others and in doing so have helped us all."

Shelden was working with colleagues in Port Canaveral when she got the news. The teachers had been awarded a grant by the Canaveral Port Authority and were developing web-based lessens and activities for third graders.

"We were emailing lesson plans back and forth, and a 'Presidential Award Notification' email popped up on my screen. I screamed, and everyone thought my computer had crashed," Shelden said.



Barbara Paranzino, principal at Pine Trail Elementary, had high praise for Pittard.

“She is a teacher of the highest caliber, pursuing excellence in math for herself, her students and for other teachers,” Paranzino said.

Both educators were teachers of the year at their respective schools. Both are members of the Florida Education Association through our local affiliates. Shelden is a member of the Brevard Federation of Teachers and Pittard is a member and steward with the Volusia Teachers Organization and is involved as an ER&D facilitator and national trainer.

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