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Dorn Announces Finalists for National Award
Six elementary teachers to be considered for math and science teaching honor

OLYMPIA - September 10, 2012 - State Superintendent Randy Dorn announced that six teachers from Washington have been selected as state-level finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

The state-level finalists are:

  • Allison Greenberg, Hawthorne Elementary, Everett
  • Pam Nolan-Beasley, Waitsburg Elementary, Waitsburg
  • Debra Strong, Forest View Elementary, Everett
  • Deborah Halperin, Laurelhurst Elementary, Seattle
  • Kristina Peterson, Lakeside, Seattle
  • Nancy Pfaff, Horace Mann Elementary, Redmond

The finalists were selected in June by a statewide selection committee comprised of content area experts and award-winning teachers. Their nominations were recently confirmed by the national PAEMST program.

“What is most impressive about this group of teachers is their incredible skill in reaching students with a wide variety of ability in math and science,” Dorn said. “In their classrooms students who have struggled seem to flourish, and accomplished students achieve even higher.”

The national PAEMST program typically announces national award recipients in the spring. State-level finalists are recognized by regional and state math and science associations and will be invited to several events for Washington’s Exceptional Educators during the next year.

For more information

State Finalists for Science

Allison Greenberg, 5th Grade
Hawthorne Elementary, Everett
Greenberg, a National Board Certified Teacher, is part of a highly collaborative 5th grade team at Hawthorne. She and her colleagues teach in their particular areas of strength in a model designed to smoothly transition students to the middle school. Greenberg is known for her engaging hands-on units that are accessible to a wide variety of learners. She is an invaluable resource for other teachers, especially in the area of formative assessment. Kelly Jewell, a member of her teaching team, praises Allison, saying “She is thoughtful about her practice, causes us to pause and look at the needs of the whole child, and always deepens our conversations whether around students, instructional practices or content. I am lucky to have a partner in teaching who is willing to give so much of herself to her students, teaching team, school and district.”

Pam Nolan-Beasley, Kindergarten
Waitsburg Elementary, Waitsburg
Nolan-Beasley began her career in Waitsburg teaching Spanish at the junior high, but for the past 12 years has taught kindergarten. She is a LASER master trainer and a much sought-after teacher of teachers in Waitsburg and across her region. Nolan-Beasley doesn’t just teach science, she creates scientists. A visitor to her kindergarten classroom will encounter students eagerly completing inquiry-based activities and using real scientific equipment. Her superintendent and principal, Carol Clarke, noticed Nolan-Beasley’s talent right away. “From the moment of my arrival in the district, it was clear that Mrs. Nolan-Beasley was an exceptional teacher . . . she works tirelessly to ensure her student and colleagues have access to high-quality science education.”

Debra Strong, 5th Grade
Forest View Elementary, Everett
Strong, a National Board Certified Teacher, teaches 5th grade at Forest View — a position she has held for the past five years. Strong’s classroom is teeming with items to fire students’ scientific curiosity. Parents and colleagues marvel at the numerous experiential adventures Strong secures for her students and the resulting increases in student engagement and enthusiasm. Parent Jamie Beth Sheridan observes the lasting impact of these experiences. “Mrs. Strong is a teacher who goes above and beyond education, far exceeding all expectations. She not only helps her students become well-equipped, independent managers before they enter middle school, she prepares and excites her students to make an impact for a better global future.”

State Finalists for Math

Deborah Halperin, 3rd Grade
Laurelhurst Elementary, Seattle
Halperin began teaching at Laurelhurst in 2000 as a math specialist. In 2008, she transitioned to 3rd grade. Halperin’s love for math is contagious, and her students are obviously deep mathematical thinkers — a quality parents and colleagues attribute to Halperin’s skill at posing questions that guide students to discovery rather than providing “right” answers. Parents Fred Rieke and Evan Goldstein observe “Debby’s is a class of third-graders occupying an oceanic range of math abilities. And yet, in a manner that we can only characterize as brilliant, she offers this great diversity of kids, each on their own terms, the deep experience of shaping an ill-formed mathematical question into a profound one, and then looking deeply into it. As much as teaching math, she is teaching her students how to think.”

Kristina Peterson, 5th Grade
Lakeside School, Seattle
Peterson, a recent Einstein Fellow, began her teaching career at the University of Washington before moving to Lakeside School in 1998 where she currently teaches 5th grade math and science. Colleagues describe her as an inspiring mentor whose inventive curriculum has moved others to venture into interdisciplinary offerings. In the classroom, Peterson’s lessons are artfully crafted to offer multiple levels of difficulty but not overwhelm students. “Her classes are packed with conceptual challenge and yet students are so engrossed in the engaging activities of the class that they are not intimidated by how challenging and deep the material actually is,” says Math Department Head Tom Rona. “Kristina finds ways to stretch the already accomplished math students and also empower and inspire students who have little confidence or experience in math.”

Nancy Pfaff, 6th Grade Mathematics
Horace Mann Elementary, Redmond
Pfaff, a National Board Certified Teacher, works as the math teacher in her 6th grade team and with a smaller group of 4th–6th-grade students who did not pass the MSP. She has also worked as a specialist and in a gifted program. Pfaff’s use of self-reflection and goal setting helps her students become active, independent learners who love math. Her 35 years of teaching experience gives her a depth of knowledge in using research to implement best practices that is admired by many, and she continues to look for gaps in the experience of both students and parents, recently planning a family math night for the whole school. Principal Megan Spaulding simply states, “After closely working with Nancy and observing her professional expertise, I can truly say she is one of education’s best.”


About OSPI
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.

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Nathan Olson
OSPI Communications Manager
(360) 725-6015

The OSPI Communications Office serves as the central point of contact for local, regional and national media covering K-12 education issues.

Communications Manager
Nathan Olson
(360) 725-6015


   Updated 4/23/2013

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