President Obama has named 108 mathematics and science teachers recipients of the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Mark Thomas, Meridian Technology Center Pre-Engineering Academy Instructor, will be one of those honored educators receiving recognition in Washington, D.C., later this summer.
The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is given annually to outstanding K-12 science and mathematics teachers from across the country. A panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians and educators selects the winners following an initial process conducted at the state level.
Winners of the honor receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation to be used at their discretion. They also are invited to Washington, D.C., for an awards ceremony, as well educational and celebratory events and visits with members of the Administration.
“My story of the Presidential Award began years ago when I was challenged and inspired by my mathematics and science teachers. Included in this list is my father who taught me to truly enjoy the rigors of mathematics,” said Thomas. “These influential people in my past encouraged me to become shoulders for the upcoming generations. This prestigious award encourages recipients to continue effective instruction through interdisciplinary connections while utilizing appropriate technology.”
Thomas is in his 20th year of teaching. He recently completed his first year at Meridian Technology Center, where he teaches 10th-12th grade Trigonometry, AP Calculus, AP Physics and Principles of Engineering. Thomas has also taught at Cushing High School and at Stillwater High School, where he was first nominated for the award.
Thomas has made an impact in the lives of students at both the state and national levels. He has developed curriculum for local, state and national agencies; trained assessors for National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS); presented at conferences for NBPTS and the Center for Excellence in Logistics and Distribution (CELDi); participated in Research Experiences for Teachers with the school of Industrial Engineering and Management at Oklahoma State University; and instructed pre-service teachers at OSU.
Thomas is a previous state finalist for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, the Oklahoma/Arkansas Mathematics Association of America Teacher of the Year, and a CELDi Success Story awardee. He has a B.S. in secondary education in mathematics with a science endorsement and an M.S. in applied mathematics from Oklahoma State University. He is a National Board Certified teacher in adolescent/young adulthood in mathematics and is a certified teacher in mathematics and science.
In a press release from the White House, President Obama said, “These teachers are shaping America’s success through their passion for math and science. Their leadership and commitment empower our children to think critically and creatively about science, technology, engineering, and math. The work these teachers are doing in our classrooms today will help ensure that America stays on the cutting edge tomorrow.”
The release says President Obama is strengthening education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields in order to fully harness the promise of the nation’s students. Investing in exemplary teachers is vital to inspiring the next generation of explorers and innovators.