HCS teachers receive Presidential Awards

FROM STAFF REPORTS

HOOVER – Two Hoover City Schools teachers were among the recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching as announced by President Donald J. Trump.

Established in 1983, PAEMST is the highest award given by the U.S. government to kindergarten through 12th grade teachers of mathematics and science, including computer science.

With this award, teachers will receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation, a certificate signed by the president and a trip to Washington, D.C. to celebrate their accomplishments. While they are in D.C., they will participate in professional development activities and network with fellow STEM educators from across the nation.

Awardees come from schools in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity schools, and schools in the United States territories of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.

Nominations and awards are facilitated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation.

A panel of distinguished mathematicians, scientists and educators at the state and national levels assess the applications before recommending nominees to OSTP. Teachers are selected based on their distinction in the classroom and dedication to improving science, technology, engineering, and math education.

Kristin Bundren of Spain Park High School and Kevin Pughsley of Berry Middle School were among the four Alabama recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellnce in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Bundren has been an educator for 12 years and has spent all of those at Spain Park High School in the Hoover City Schools district. She currently teaches ninth-grade pre-Advanced Placement Biology.

Bundren uses teaching strategies that incorporate various learning styles to meet the differentiated needs of her students. Students are challenged daily in her classroom through lessons where they carry out investigations, develop models, and analyze data. Bundren works to increase scientific thinking by using argument-driven inquiry to allow opportunities for problem solving, discussion and explanation.

Bundren has served as a teacher leader in her school as Science Department Chair and in her district as an engaged learning facilitator and member of the curriculum development team. She has presented at local, regional and national conferences on differentiated teaching, formative assessment, technology, and scientific argumentation.

Bundren earned a B.A. in secondary science education from Auburn University. She is certified in general science. She is a National Board Certified teacher in adolescent and young adulthood science.

“The Presidential Award acknowledges educators who are dedicated to innovation and excellence in the classroom,” Bundren said. “It celebrates teachers who have a passion for learning and instill that same passion in their students. I am honored to be considered for such an award and recognize that achieving this award is only through the support of colleagues who have contributed to my growth as an educator and my students who inspire me daily.”

Pughsley has been an educator for 12 years, teaching sixth grade Earth Science. He currently teaches at Berry Middle School in the Hoover City School System and previously spent 10 years teaching at Calera Middle School in the Shelby County School System.

Pughsley’s desire for reaching all students is evident in his practice of surveying his students every nine weeks. The survey asks students to provide feedback on his effectiveness as a teacher, their interest in future labs, and how they value the activities completed to-date. This surveying practice has inspired fellow teachers throughout the school to incorporate student surveys into their classroom to gain feedback and improve effectiveness.

Over the past few years, he has led and planned field trips to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Each trip allows over 100 sixth grade students to gain first-hand experience and the ability to connect with the material they have studied throughout the year, especially as it relates to space exploration.

As a consultant for A-Plus College Ready, Pughsley writes curriculum and teaches summer sessions to earth science teachers across the state of Alabama. The program’s goal is to foster an innovative culture for teachers and to equip and empower them to expect more.

Pughsley earned a B.A. in elementary education and a M.Ed. from Samford University. He is a certified elementary school teacher.

“I believe each person is born with a purpose in life, and I’ve always felt that teaching is mine,” Pughsley said. “Over the past 12 years, I have been blessed to teach science to sixth graders, with a focus on building relationships and setting high expectations in a high-energy and positive environment. Winning this award further encourages me that I’m living my life’s purpose. I am grateful for the love and support of my family, colleagues, and students who have helped me become the educator I am today.”