By CAROL A. CLARK
Los Alamos Daily Post

Today, the White House announced the recipients of the prestigious Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, including Los Alamos High School teacher Kathleen (Kathy) Boerigter, who is being honored in science.

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is awarded to outstanding K-12 science and mathematics teachers from across the country. The winners are selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators following an initial selection process at the state level. Each nomination year of the award alternates between teachers in the kindergarten through 6th grade level, and those teaching 7th through 12th grades.

“To receive the Presidential Award is very humbling because I have known and worked with so many outstanding teachers throughout my career,” Boerigter said. “This award acknowledges the passion and dedication that I have put into working with young people over many years. I also see this award as recognition of my fellow staff that support me and provide me with the opportunity to do what I love. The Award reflects all of the hours that I never settled for just being good enough for my students.”

Winners of this Presidential honor receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation to be used at their discretion, and are invited to Washington, D.C. Sept. 8, for an awards ceremony as well educational and celebratory events, and visits with members of the Administration.

“The recipients of this award are integral to ensuring our students are equipped with critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are vital to our Nation’s success,” President Obama said. “As the United States continues to lead the way in the innovation that is shaping our future, these excellent teachers are preparing students from all corners of the country with the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills that help keep us on the cutting-edge.”

President Obama and his Administration have taken significant steps to strengthen education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields in order to fully harness the promise our Nation’s students. The President’s Educate to Innovate campaign, launched in November 2009, has resulted in more than $1 billion in private investment for improving K-12 STEM education. Additionally, in 2011, the President set an ambitious goal to put 100,000 additional excellent STEM teachers in America’s classrooms by 2021.

Thanks to the work of more than 280 organizations, 30,000 new STEM teachers have already been trained, and resources are in place to train an additional 70,000 STEM teachers by 2021. In parallel, the President has called for increasing the proficiency of America’s existing STEM teachers with a Master Teacher Corps initiative, which would identify the most effective K-12 STEM teachers and support them in a program to propagate their best practices with their peers. Read more about the President’s commitment to science, technology, and innovation HERE.

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) is the highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th grade mathematics or science (including computer science) teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. Up to 108 teachers are recognized each year.

Awardees also join an active network of outstanding educators from throughout the nation. Since 1983, more than 4,600 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession. Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.

To learn more about the PAEMST program, click here.

This year, Boerigter begins here 19th year of teaching chemistry at Los Alamos High School.

“We couldn’t be more proud,” Superintendent Dr. Kurt Steinhaus said. “Kathy is a prime example of excellence in our schools and the reason our district is among the best.”

Boerigter teaches Chemistry to 10th grade students and Advanced Placement Chemistry to 11th–12th grade students. She is the adviser for both Key Club and Science Bowl Team, and has taken both teams to numerous national and regional competitions. She said that she is excited to be starting the new Chem Club this year.

Before teaching in Los Alamos, Boerigter taught at Brookline High School in Massachusetts and Amphitheater High in Tucson, Ariz.

Boerigter also spoke of her passion for teaching science to students at all levels and rarely turns down an opportunity to teach. Most recently, she taught Chemistry in the Kitchen at a local children’s college and staged demonstrations with her previous students at the Community ScienceFest. She has mentored numerous new teachers and student teachers during her 25 years of teaching, and enjoys seeing previous students enter the field of teaching and chemistry.

Boerigter earned a B.A., cum laude, in biology from Hope College in Holland, Michigan. She also received a M.A. in college student personnel from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. She is a National Board Certified Teacher in adolescent and young adult science and is married to Steve Boerigter who works at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The couple has three grown daughters.