PhD Student Named Presidential Award State Finalist

Posted: December 21, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Erin Peters, a PhD student in education at George Mason, was named one of five Virginia finalists this week in the 2005 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the nation’s highest honor for K-12 teaching in these fields.

Peters is lead science teacher at Williamsburg Middle School in Arlington, Va. She has a MEd from the University of Virginia in Social Foundations of Education and Educational Psychology. Her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois is a BS in Teaching of Physics.

Established by Congress in 1983 and administered for the White House by the National Science Foundation, the Presidential Awards allow each state to select up to three mathematics and three science teachers as state finalists. From this field of finalists, a maximum of 108 Presidential Awardees will be selected and announced in March 2006.

“My principal announced it a faculty meeting, and it didn’t even register to me initially,” said Peters. “You don’t have moments like that very often. I consider it the highest of awards that a science or math teacher could aspire to. I am very honored to be a finalist.”

Explaining her success as a teacher, Peters said, “I bring curiosity about the workings of the universe to class. I’m always wondering about how things work, and often the students pick up on my enthusiasm.

“I work hard to connect abstract topics to my students. For example, when we begin to study electricity, I ask students to tell me about their everyday experiences with electricity. Inevitably, the students have stories about their own experiences. From these seemingly endless stories I can illustrate the scientific principles that make electrical events occur.”

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