Enumclaw Middle School has some pretty special teachers.
That school is the only one in the state that has two teachers selected as finalists nominated for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
Kimberly Taylor, who teaches science to seventh and eighth grade students, and Andrew Means, a seventh-grade math and eighth-grade algebra teacher, are the two local finalists.
Taylor is a National Board Certified Teacher whose classroom is literally alive with science, according to a state schools news release. Terrariums, aquariums and various animal inhabitants create an environment that instantly engages students and visitors alike. Her rigorous and imaginative classes, such as forensic science, are much sought after by students of all aptitudes and ability levels.
The nomination goes on to say that Taylor’s respect for the skills students bring into the classroom and her willingness to share her own academic struggles creates a culture of trust where all students are inspired to greater challenge.
Joseph Martin, a manager with the Muckleshoot tribe and parent, calls Taylor a “paradigm shifting educator … who challenges her students to push their limits and build their critical-thinking skills with high-level work.”
Means, also a National Board Certified Teacher, is a masterful instructor and a catalyst for profound growth at his school and across the district, according to his nomination. Means builds intellectual confidence in his students with a focus on student accountability and remarkable ability to lead them through self-assessment using probing questions.
Three years ago, he led a teacher-driven initiative to build more rigor by teaching Algebra 1 to all students at Enumclaw Middle School. Colleagues credit this move along with Means’ expert leadership and professional mentorship with their significant gains in state scores at all grade levels.
Terry Parker, Enumclaw’s Director of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction, praised Means by saying: “He is a person of exceptional talent and character. He possesses a special ability to inspire young people in his mathematics classroom ... and I consider him among the finest teachers with whom I have worked in my career.”
The other finalists announced by state schools Superintendent Randy Dorn are: Robert Ettinger of Asa Mercer Middle School, John Gallagher of Port Angeles High School, George Christoph of River Ridge High School and Nathan Shields of Fort Vancouver High School. The finalists were selected by a statewide selection committee comprised of content area experts and award-winning teachers.
“The finalists are all teaching in a wide variety of settings, but they share the common commitment of building great relationships with their students and showing a passion for math and science,” Dorn said. “By focusing on the individual needs of students and getting creative in their classrooms, these model teachers have opened a world of possibilities for their students.”
The national award is the highest honor for a K-12 mathematics or science teacher. Each year the award alternates between elementary and secondary teachers. Recipients are typically announced by the president in the spring.
National winners receive a citation signed by President Obama, a paid trip for two to Washington, D.C., to attend a weeklong series of recognition events and professional development opportunities. They also receive gifts from program sponsors from around the country and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.