Hoover teacher wins national award

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 23, 2007

For the second time in three years, a Shelby County area teacher received the Presidential Award for Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Shane Callans, a fifth-grade teacher at Greystone Elementary School, was one of two Alabama teachers selected out of 230 state finalists for the nation&8217;s highest honor for teaching math.

&8220;I was jumping up and down and telling my children, &8216;I won! I won!&8217;&8221; Callans said.

The Greystone resident earned her bachelor&8217;s, master&8217;s and education specialist degree in elementary education at the Univerisity of Alabama at Birmingham.

In her second year at Greystone and her 10th year teaching, she said one of the hardest parts of the application process was critiquing herself.

&8220;Some of the questions are really reflective questions on your own teaching,&8221; Callans said.

The application packet, which also consisted of essays and videos of classroom lessons, took nearly a year to complete.

Jo Scott, a spokesperson for the award program, said, &8220;The application process is pretty rigorous,&8221; but worth it. &8220;For the math and science teachers who did receive it, they said it&8217;s like winning the Academy Awards or the Nobel Peace Prize for their jobs,&8221; Scott said.

In addition to national recognition, Callans received $10,000, gifts from program donors, a citation signed by President George W. Bush and the chance to meet him during an all-expense paid week of events, seminars and tours in Washington.

&8220;I think it&8217;s an extremely prestigious award, and it allows teachers all across the nation to get together and see other teachers who are doing wonderful things in their classrooms,&8221; Callans said. &8220;It just reaffirms what we&8217;re doing and gives us a broader spectrum to look at and bounce ideas off each other.&8221;

Ideas the Greystone teacher shared included the ways she incorporates skills with game favorites like four square and tic-tac-toe.

&8220;They enjoy it, but they can apply it to other tasks I ask them to do,&8221; Callans said. &8220;They don&8217;t realize they&8217;re learning, so when they know the answers later, &8220;they surprise themselves.&8221;

Callans was nominated for the award by former colleague and 2002 Presidential Award winner Kathy Chandler.

The program, administered by the National Science Foundation on behalf of the White House, uses math and science experts in its judging panel.

&8220;It was probably the best experience of being a teacher in my life,&8221; Callans said of the award and the trip to Washington that followed. &8220;It was rewarding to feel like people outside the education profession look at us and see what we&8217;re doing as important.&8221;