AUGUSTA, Maine — Two science teachers and one math teacher from Maine have been announced as finalists for the 2011 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The National Science Foundation, which is known for its rigorous selection process, will select up to one mathematics and one science winner per state to be recognized next spring in Washington, D.C.
The three Maine teachers are: Diana Jacobe, a math teacher at Bonny Eagle High School in Standish; Bonnie Burne, a seventh-grade teacher at Pemetic Elementary School in Southwest Harbor; and Ken Vencile, a biology teacher at Camden Hills Regional High School.
The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is awarded annually to exemplary K-12 science and math teachers from across the country. The winners are selected by a panel of scientists, mathematicians and educators after an initial selection process carried out at the state level. Each year, the award alternates between elementary and secondary education, going either to science and math teachers in kindergarten through sixth grade (as it did for the 2011 finalists) or to those teaching in grades seven through 12.
Winners of the Presidential Teaching Award receive $10,000 awards from the National Science Foundation to be used at their discretion. They also receive an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for a White House awards ceremony and several days of educational and celebratory events, including visits with members of Congress and science agency leaders.
Jacobe, who teaches Algebra II, Honors Algebra II, and Pre-Calculus at Bonny Eagle High School in RSU 6, has taught for 19 years and has been the mathematics department chair since 2006. She has been involved in work at her school district to improve K-12 mathematics education through implementation of a system of interventions to help under-achieving students and creating interdisciplinary units.
Burne, who teaches seventh-grade science in Southwest Harbor, part of the Mount Desert Island Regional School System, is a mentor teacher for College of the Atlantic students and a teacher leader for Youth as Citizen Scientists, a project to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning. She is a recipient of the Governor’s Award for Exemplary Service and Volunteerism, and received the Golden Apple Exemplary Educator Award from the Mount Desert Island Rotary Club.
Ken Vencile has taught for 14 years. He currently teaches biology at Camden Hills Regional High School, part of the Five Towns Community School District. He is certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which also requires a rigorous process for selection. Vencile is involved in local student activities, including as the sophomore class adviser. He has worked in his district to improve literacy in science and to integrate technology, and has served as a student teacher mentor. He has co-authored three scientific journal articles on soft shell clams.