Two Maine educators Presidential Award winners

A kindergarten teacher from Cushing and fifth-grade math teacher from Yarmouth are Maine’s recipients of the prestigious 2012 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

The PAEMST are the nation’s highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science, including computer science and alternate annually between recognizing K-6 teachers and those teaching in grades 7-12. The 2012 awardees named last week in Washington, D.C. teach kindergarten through sixth grade. Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.

Winners of this Presidential honor receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation to be used at their discretion. They also are invited to Washington, D.C., for an awards ceremony and several days of educational and celebratory events.

Elizabeth HeidemannBeth Heidemann, who was honored as Maine’s PAEMST’s science winner, has taught kindergarten at the Cushing Community School for 20 years, acting as a leader within the school and as a liaison to the community. She serves on her school’s Student Intervention Team and acts as Team Leader. Heidemann is focused on developing project-based learning experiences that weave students’ needs and interests into activities that connect them to the community and world around them. Her most recent class, for example, worked with the town recycling committee to collect data, create public service announcements and publish a book.

Heidemann’s teaching reaches beyond her classroom, involving community volunteers and external experts. Through various grants, she has worked to provide her students with current technology, including an interactive whiteboard and one-to-one iPads. She passionately integrates technology into her teaching, yet gives her students real-world experiences and ample contact with nature. She co-chaired the town trail committee that designed and built a half-mile nature trail for school and public use.

“The Presidential Award is a great honor and wonderful affirmation of the work I do with my students,” Heidemann said. “It sends a clear message that science education and real-life, project-based learning is a worthy educational path and that true education is far more than reading drills and screening scores. I hope this award provides validation of this type of work and serves as inspiration to colleagues to pursue the wonderfully messy work of real learning.”

You can read more about Heidermann’s story here in the Bangor Daily News.

Karen JagolinzerKaren Jagolinzer, who is Maine’s PAEMST’s math winner, has been an educator for more than 18 years. For the past 14 years, she has taught at Frank H. Harrison Middle School in Yarmouth. At Harrison Middle School, Jagolinzer has taught eighth grade mathematics and gifted and talented mathematics for fifth through eighth grade; for the past eight years, she has been teaching in a self-contained fifth grade classroom. She is also the fifth grade team’s Learning Area Leader and works closely with the lead mathematics teacher to ensure quality mathematics instruction for that grade.

Jagolinzer’s love and knowledge of mathematics help her create an engaging and safe classroom environment where children feel comfortable with mathematics and its abundant challenges and wonders. She works to create differentiated lessons where expectations are high and all children are encouraged to do their best. Children are encouraged to think beyond the correct answer.

“The Presidential Award recognizes the passion I have for mathematics and for quality mathematics instruction,” Jagolinzer said. “Quality instruction is vital to the success of our students and our society. I am honored to be included with so many accomplished educators. I share this award with my talented colleagues and administrators who push me to be my best. I am committed to developing my students’ confidence and math abilities. I hope what they learn in my class serves them well throughout their lives.”

You can read more about Jagolinzer’s story here in the Forecaster.

Nominations for the 2014 PAEMST, which will again honor K-6 educators, are open now through April 1. For more information, visit

For more information about PAEMST and other initiatives of the Maine DOE to recognize excellent educators in the state, visit

Leave a Reply