Laura Steele, Wright Elementary School, Wins Presidential Excellence Awards in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering

Laura Steele, Wright Elementary School, Wins Presidential Excellence Awards in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering

President Donald J. Trump recently announced the recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

Awardees come from schools in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools, and schools in the United States territories of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands. Nominations and awards are facilitated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation. The individuals and organizations announced are 2017 and 2018 Awardees.

Established in 1983, PAEMST is the highest award given by the U.S. Government to kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers of mathematics and science, including computer science.

A panel of distinguished mathematicians, scientists, and educators at the State and national levels assess the applications before recommending nominees to OSTP.  Teachers are selected based on their distinction in the classroom and dedication to improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

Laura Steele, Wright Elementary School, was one of four Florida teachers to receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching award. The others were Karina Moran, Manatee Elementary School, Tiffany Oliver, T.R. Robinson High School, and Lorraine Plageman, Jupiter Community High School.

"It is such an unbelievable honor," said Steele.  "Dr. Rob Schoen, a professor from Florida State University, nominated me for the award. He has brought Cognitively Guided Instruction to Florida. The trip to Washington DC was the experience of a lifetime. We were honored with a dinner at The Kennedy Center, the awards ceremony was at the Department of Interior, and we toured the White House."

Each Presidential Awardee receives a certificate signed by the President of the United States and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Awardees are honored at an award ceremony that takes place in Washington, D.C. Additional events may include professional development opportunities and discussions with policymakers on how to improve science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science education.

Awardees also join an active network of outstanding educators from throughout the Nation. Since 1983, more than 4,800 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession.

“The Presidential Award is an honor to be shared with my family, friends, coworkers, students, and mentors who have modeled outstanding and respectful teaching methods throughout my life,” said Steele. “The award celebrates the success of teaching children through developing their conceptual understanding of mathematical ideas and problem-solving strategies. Children are empowered when teachers listen to them, encourage risk-taking, and value mistakes not as stumbling blocks, but as building blocks for success.”

  Laura Steele’s Biography

Laura Steele Laura Steele has been an educator for 23 years. She has spent her career at   Wright Elementary School and has been teaching two classes of mathematics and science to kindergarten students for the past seven years. She spent the previous 16 years teaching second through fifth-grade students.

Laura is passionate about creating kindergarten mathematicians. She uses cognitively guided instructional practices to build students’ conceptual understanding of mathematics. Listening to how students think and solve problems helps her design and facilitate lessons to strengthen each child’s foundation of mathematics.

Laura mentors teachers at her school and in her district. She is a mentor for the teacher’s development group, providing instructional materials on the teacher learning website. She has shared instructional practices at district, state, and national conferences and has represented her school as a teacher of the year.

Laura earned a B.A., magna cum laude, in elementary education from the University of West Florida and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Grand Canyon University. She is certified to teach kindergarten through sixth-grade elementary education.


The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) is the highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th-grade science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. Up to 108 teachers are recognized each year.