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CBHS Teacher Wins Presidential Award

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CBHS Teacher Wins Presidential Award
Posted on 10/16/2019
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Casco Bay High School math teacher Priya Natarajan has won a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). She won from the state of Maine in the mathematics category. She was in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, Oct. 16, to receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.

Natarajan was named one of two Maine finalists in the 7th-12th grade teachers of mathematics category of the award two years ago. That put her in the running to win at the national level. The names of state-level finalists for each content area were forwarded to a national selection committee composed of mathematics and/or science educators, researchers, district officials, and past awardees, who met to select the PAEMST awardees at the national level. Natarajan was notified this week of her win.

CBHS Principal Derek Pierce recommended Natarajan for the honor. “Priya Natarajan may be the most comprehensively excellent teacher – and human – with whom I have worked,” Pierce said. “She does not just fulfill the rigorous criteria for this national honor, she exemplifies them.”

Natarajan was a math teacher and department head at Deering High School for 12 years before coming to CBHS five years ago. Prior to that, she was a founding teacher at Boston Arts Academy. She has a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University and a master’s degree from Harvard.

She has excelled at CBHS, Pierce said. “Priya’s humble but persistent advocacy has elevated the status of math at our school,” he wrote in 2017. “Priya is especially passionate and effective at inspiring young women and students of color to pursue STEM. (Priya’s family is from India, but she grew up in rural West Virginia.) She volunteers with Portland Empowered to better engage our multilingual families and promotes authentic opportunities for our students of color to lead and share their voice.”

She engages all students, Pierce said, asking “open-ended questions that invite student grappling and inquiry” and striking “an impressive balance with a classroom that functions like both a supportive community and a place where diverse individual needs can be met.”

Pierce also added that Natarajan has “contributed deeply and diversely to the life of the school, from chaperoning dances and launching math team to representing CBHS on district work.”

Natarajan and other teachers chosen to be Presidential Awardees were notified by the White House and are being honored at various ceremonies in Washington, D.C.

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) are the highest honors bestowed by the United States government specifically for K-12 science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teaching. The Awards were established by Congress in 1983. The President may recognize up to 108 exemplary teachers each year.

Awards are given to science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teachers from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Department of Defense Education Activity schools, or the U.S. territories as a group (American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and U.S. Virgin Islands).

The award recognizes teachers who have both a deep content knowledge of the subjects they teach and the ability to motivate and enable students to be successful in those areas.

Awardees reflect the expertise and dedication of the Nation's teaching corps, and they demonstrate the positive impact of excellent teachers on student achievement. The National Science Foundation administers PAEMST on behalf of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Learn more about Natarajan and the other awardees: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-announces-presidential-excellence-awards-science-mathematics-engineering/