Local Teachers Among Finalists For National Honor In Math/Science Education

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Two Southland teachers were among six state finalists announced today for the 2020 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Presented by the National Science Foundation, the awards honor teachers who “display subject mastery, appropriate use of instructional methods and strategies, lifelong learning and leadership in education outside the classroom,'' according to the state Department of Education.

“These teachers are incredible educators, role models and mentors to all those around them, and through mastery of their craft, they inspire students to study math, technology, engineering, and science – including computer science,'' state Education Secretary Tony Thurmond said. “They're bright stars and prime examples of excellence in our educational system, and we hope that all students can enroll in great STEAM and computer science programs with educators like them, to prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow.''

Leslie Whitaker, a third-grade teacher at Esencia Elementary in the Capistrano Unified School District in Rancho Mission Viejo, was among three state finalists in the mathematics category. According to the state, Whitaker has been teaching for 20 years and also worked with the Orange County Department of Education to train teachers for transitional kindergarten through fifth-grade classrooms.

Angela Chavez, a third-grade teachers at Vena Avenue Elementary in Arleta in the Los Angeles Unified School District, was named a finalist in the science category, A teacher of 19 years, Chavez has also worked in the Girls Who Code program and has presented at district and national science conferences about girls in science. She also provides teacher training on California Next Generation Science Standards.

The eventual award winners from each state receive a $10,000 award from the NSF and are traditionally honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Photo: Getty Images

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