Waterville Teacher Finalist for National Award

Laurette Darling of Albert Hall School could win Presidential Award for her science teaching

AUGUSTA – Laurette Darling, a fourth grade teacher at the Albert Hall School in Waterville, has been named a science finalist for the 2010 Presidential Award for Excellence for Mathematics and Science Teaching. If chosen as a winner, Darling will go to Washington, D.C. next year to be recognized.

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is awarded annually to exemplary pre-college-level science and math teachers from across the country. The winners are selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators following 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 grades K through 6 (as it is for the 2010 finalists) or to those teaching in grades 7 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.

Darling, who lives in Kents Hill, has been an elementary educator for more than two-and-a-half decades and has been at Albert Hall Elementary School for four years. Darling holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and master’s degree in early childhood education and curriculum instruction from Chicago State University. For the last eight years Darling has participated in the professional development and the leadership of the Maine Science Teachers Association and currently serves as the group’s president.

“Step into her Waterville classroom, and you will see students actively engaged in science inquiry, applying their understanding of scientific principles, and using evidence to support their understanding,” said Anita Bernhardt, Presidential Award coordinator for Maine. “You will see learning in action.”

Maine Education Commissioner Angela Faherty congratulated Darling on her selection as a finalist. “At a time when we are pushing at the national and state level to engage more students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, we rely on accomplished, quality teachers like Ms. Darling to shepherd our students into a greatly changed world that demands more understanding of these subjects, whether they plan to pursue careers in those areas or simply to be informed and engaged citizens.”

Shawn Towle, who teaches mathematics in Falmouth, and Maria Palopoli, a science teacher in Brunswick – Maine’s 2009 awardees – are being recognized this week at a four-day event in Washington, D.C.

For more information, visit the Maine Department of Education