Three Chesterfield County Public Schools educators recently were named state-level finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). The Presidential recognition is the highest honor a kindergarten through 12th-grade mathematics or science teacher can receive for outstanding teaching in the United States.
Virginia sent four finalists’ names forward for consideration in the outstanding science teacher competition. Two finalists teach in Chesterfield County at James River High: Tara Brunyansky and Tim Couillard. Brunyansky is a former school division teacher of the year, while Couillard is a former Virginia Lottery Super Teacher award winner.
One of Virginia’s finalists for the mathematics recognition is Elisa Tedona, who taught at Salem Church Middle last year and is serving as dean of students at James River High this year.
“We are excited to have Tara, Tim and Elisa recognized as among the best of the best of our country’s secondary math and science teachers,” School Board Chair Dr. Javaid Siddiqi said. “The presidential award recognition is reaffirmation of the hard work and dedication of our teachers. To have three teachers from one school division named to this prestigious list of finalists is rare and serves as a testament to the quality of teachers here in Chesterfield.”
National winners will be announced later this school year. Up to 108 teachers are recognized annually in the competition, which recognizes elementary teachers one year and secondary teachers the next year.
As a state-level finalist, the teachers’ applications have been forwarded to the National Science Foundation’s national selection committee for consideration. Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.
“Since 1983, more than 4,700 teachers have been recognized through these awards for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession, and we’re excited to have three of Chesterfield County’s best teachers named as finalists,” Superintendent Dr. James Lane said. “Their innovative and engaging work in our classrooms provides a learning environment that our students love and thrive in.”
Teachers selected as presidential awardees will be notified officially by the White House. In addition, each presidential awardee will receive a gift of $10,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip for two to Washington, D.C., where awardees will be honored in a variety of ceremonies. All state-level finalists will be honored at the awards dinner during the Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ Spring Conference.