PUBLISHED: 3:39 PM on Wednesday, May 23, 2007
President Bush names Juneau teacher one of nation's top science educators
President George W. Bush is honoring science teacher Jennifer Thompson, from Gastineau Community School in Juneau, with the 2006 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the Nation's highest honor for teaching in these fields. Thompson is the only science winner from Alaska, and one of 93 teachers nationwide to receive the prestigious award.

  Jennifer Thompson
In a citation given to Thompson, President Bush commended her "for embodying excellence in teaching, for devotion to the learning needs of the students, and for upholding the high standards that exemplify American education at its finest."

As an Awardee, Thompson receives a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation, the federal agency that administers the awards program on behalf of The White House, and an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, DC, for a week of celebratory events and professional development activities.

In a letter to Awardees, President Bush said, "Math and science are critical components of America's technological and competitive strength. Through the American Competitiveness Initiative, my Administration is working to advance American innovation and support the efforts of teachers by increasing investments in research and development, promoting education in math and science, and encouraging entrepreneurship and technological advances."

Established by Congress in 1983, the annual Presidential Awards program identifies highly qualified mathematics and science teachers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Territories, and the U.S. Department of Defense Schools.

This year's recipients - recommended for the award by a panel of leading mathematicians, scientists and educators - are kindergarten through sixth grade teachers.

"These teachers exemplify what President Bush's American Competitiveness Initiative aims to achieve by raising the bar for math and science education for all students, who are America's future leaders of innovation," said John H. Marburger, III, Director of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

"My principal, who nominated me, inspired and encouraged me to apply," said Thompson, when asked why she applied.

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With innovative lesson plans, Thompson teaches, engages and excites her students about science. She said, "a class favorite is our life science unit, because students love investigating classroom pets as well as life outside our classroom: salmon, bears, deer and porcupines."

As a science teacher, Thompson is faced with the challenge of finding ways to engage students with innovative curriculum and making an intimidating subject like science accessible to her students.

"I use games and projects in all of my mathematics lessons to engage my students because it is the best way to get first graders to learn."

In addition to being exceptional mathematics and science teachers, Presidential Awardees also are leaders, mentors and scholars in their community. Thompson currently is teaching a guidance and classroom management course at her local university, providing teachers with the skills they need to develop interesting and engaging activities that encourage students to work together and build communication skills.