Photo credit Michal Jarmoluk on Creative Commons

SANTA FE — Two New Mexico elementary school teachers are recipients of the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the nation’s highest honor for teaching in science, technology, engineering and math.

Silvia Miranda of Mesa Elementary School in Clovis Municipal Schools received the K–6 mathematics award, and Hope Cahill of El Dorado Community School in Santa Fe Public Schools is the K–6 science awardee, the White House announced today.

Miranda taught fourth grade for eight years at Mesa Elementary, where she is now a reading specialist for kindergarten through second grade. She is a 2020 National Science Teaching Association Teacher Awards finalist and a 2018 Milken Educator Award recipient. In addition, she was Clovis Teacher of the Year in 2018 and a New Mexico Teacher of the Year finalist. She was a state ambassador for the New Mexico Teacher Leader Network for two years and served on the state Secretary’s Teacher Advisory. 

Cahill has been teaching sixth and seventh grade science at El Dorado Community School since 2012. She developed an instructional unit around the study of the Socorro magma body that mirrors the work of field scientists. That work will be featured in an upcoming edition of “The Earth Scientist,” a quarterly journal of the National Earth Science Teachers Association. She is also on the planning committee for STEM Santa Fe, a local nonprofit that sponsors the annual STEM Pathways for Girls, a conference for girls in fifth through eighth grades.

The Presidential Awards are the nation’s highest distinction for teaching in science, technology, engineering, mathematics or computer science. Awardees are recognized for their contributions to teaching and learning, along with their ability to help students make progress in science, technology, engineering, mathematics or computer science. In addition to honoring individual achievement, the goal of the awards program is to showcase the highest standards of STEM teaching. 

Each year, a national committee of prominent mathematicians, scientists, education researchers, district-level personnel and classroom teachers recommends up to 108 teachers to receive PAEMST awards. Up to two teachers — mathematics or science — are chosen from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Territories and schools operated in the United States and overseas by the Department of Defense Education Activity.

Historically, awardees receive a certificate signed by the president and a trip to Washington, D.C., to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities. They also receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation. In 2022, awardees will be recognized virtually later this month and at an in-person event as soon as COVID travel allows.

Since Congress established the Presidential Awards in 1983, more than 5,200 teachers have been honored.

This story is a staff report from The Paper.