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Two San Diego teachers finalist for presidential STEAM award

Posted at 3:45 PM, Dec 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-22 18:45:43-05

SAN DIEGO (CNS) -- Two San Diego-area teachers are among six state finalists announced Tuesday for the 2020 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

According to the State Department of Education, the award honors teachers who "display subject mastery, appropriate use of instructional methods and strategies, lifelong learning and leadership in education outside the classroom."

The PAEMST is presented by the National Science Foundation. Up to 108 teachers are recognized each year.

"These teachers are incredible educators, role models and mentors to all those around them, and through mastery of their craft, they inspire students to study math, technology, engineering, and science -- including computer science," State Education Secretary Tony Thurmond said. "They're bright stars and prime examples of excellence in our educational system, and we hope that all students can enroll in great STEAM and computer science programs with educators like them, to prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow."

Khamphet Pease, a sixth-grade teacher at Wilson Middle School in San Diego, was named a finalist in the mathematics category. An educator for 14 years, Pease teaches courses in Introduction to Coding; Gateway to Technology: Design and Modeling, Automation and Robotics; and Computer Science for Innovators and Makers. From 2014-16 she also mentored 16 high school girls from schools across the county to build a microlab experiment that was sent to the International Space Station to test zero gravity.

Marlys Williamson, a fifth-grade teacher at Wolf Canyon Elementary in Chula Vista, was named a finalist in the science category. Williamson, a 13-year educator, has trained fellow teachers on science and engineering practices, led the creation of Wolf Canyon's Design Den makerspace and mentored student teachers from multiple teaching programs.

The eventual award winners from each state receive a $10,000 award from the NSF, receive a certificate signed by the President of the United States, and are traditionally honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.