LAHS Teacher Debbie Grothaus Honored With Three Other NM Educators For Excellence In Math & Science Teaching



SANTA FE — Four teachers are in the running for the prestigious Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), serving as models and inspiration for educators and students across the state.

The finalists are:

  • Debbie Grothaus, Los Alamos Public Schools (science;
  • Kimberly Conell, Albuquerque Public Schools (math);
  • Amanda Kraft, New Mexico International School (science); and
  • Christopher Speck, Albuquerque Public Schools (science).

New Mexico’s finalists said they are honored to be spotlighted:

Grothaus said being a finalist allows her to stretch her influence and be a role model.

“It was made very clear to me through the application process that good educators are not created in a vacuum, but by the influence and help of the people around them,” the physics teacher at Los Alamos High School said. “Having the opportunity to truly reflect on my teaching made me very thankful for all the people that have influenced me over the years: my colleagues, my mentors and especially my students. I would not be the educator I am without them.”

Kraft is a science teacher in Albuquerque.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to slow down and reflect on my practice,” Kraft said. “As cringy as it feels to watch a video of yourself teaching, I’ve learned so much about what I don’t notice while I am teaching a lesson. This entire process has given me the gift of perspective.”

Speck, a teacher at Garfield STEM School, said being a finalist validates his work.

“The application process was beneficial because it helped me reflect and showcase the ways in which I work to develop students’ scientific understanding,” he said.

For math teacher Conell, the prestige means something both personally and professionally.

“Professionally, it reaffirms my commitment to the teaching profession and motivates me to continue striving for excellence,” the teacher at Albuquerque’s La Cueva High School said. “Personally, it is a gratifying experience that makes me feel appreciated and valued for the work that I do.”

Each year, a national committee of prominent mathematicians, scientists, mathematics/science education researchers, district-level personnel and classroom teachers recommend up to 108 teachers to receive PAEMST honors. One or two teachers — mathematics or science — from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. territories and schools operated in the United States and overseas by the Department of Defense Education Activity receive the award.

Educators who are selected as PAEMST national awardees receive a trip to Washington, D.C., where they attend a series of recognition events and professional-learning opportunities. They also receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation, a presidential certificate and join an elite cohort of award-winning teachers who can influence STEM teaching at the local, state and national level.

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