Kristi Peterson, a math teacher at Mesquite High School, has been selected as a state finalist for the prestigious Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The awards program is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government, specifically for K-12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics teaching. Every year, the President chooses up to 108 exemplary teachers for the honor.
“I am far from the same teacher I was when I started teaching 29 years ago. Just as I expect my students to challenge themselves, I strive to improve all the time. This award has helped me reflect on my journey and provides motivation to continue to grow, so that I am deserving of this honor,” Peterson said.
Peterson was nominated for the honor by a math consultant. At first, she was unsure if she was going to apply and go through the process, but she changed her mind after talking with her principal.
“The application process is intense, and I wanted to focus my time on supporting my students and challenging them to be successful problem solvers. However, Mr. Huston, my principal, convinced me to apply,” she said.
Now as a state finalist for the award, Peterson will submit additional paperwork to go along with her application. All of the submissions will be reviewed, and the national selection committee will make recommendations to the White House for two winners to represent Arizona.
“I am so proud of my students and how much they have accomplished this year. I am also very humbled, because I know there are many great math teachers not only in our district, but across the state,” she said.
The selected Presidential Awardees will receive a certificate signed by the President of the United States, a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation, and a trip to the award ceremony in Washington, D.C. They’ll also have access to future professional development opportunities and discussions with policy makers on how to improve STEM education for students.