TDOE Announces Presidential Teaching Award State Finalists

Thursday, June 08, 2023 | 01:00pm


National Awards Recognize Top STEM Educators Across Country   

Nashville, TN — Today, the Tennessee Department of Education announced three state finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST). The PAEMST award is the nation’s highest honor for U.S. K–12 science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teachers.

Awardees are recognized for their contributions to teaching and learning, along with their ability to help students progress in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science (STEM). In addition to honoring individual achievement, the goal of the awards program is to showcase the highest standards of STEM teaching.

“Tennessee educators are always going above and beyond the call of duty. These four finalists have showcased their skills and elevated the standards for other educators in Tennessee and the nation," said Interim Commissioner Samuel Pearcy. “We are grateful to have extraordinary educators that value innovation through STEM learning and teaching.”

The 2023 Tennessee state finalists are:

  • Emily McDonald, Mathematics, Red Bank High School, Hamilton County Schools
  • Amber Vinson, Mathematics, Intrepid Opportunity Academy, Intrepid College Preparatory Charter School
  • Mike French, Science, Northview Middle School, Dyer County Schools 
  • Jessica Ghazi, Science, The Howard School, Hamilton County Schools

Administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the state finalists represent the most outstanding STEM teachers Tennessee has to offer and serve as both a model and an inspiration to students and fellow teachers.  

Each of the state finalists will now move on to a national selection committee that will identify up to two teachers—one in mathematics and one in science—from each state. Teachers who are selected as PAEMST awardees receive a trip to Washington, D.C., where they attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities. They also receive a $10,000 award from NSF, a Presidential certificate, and join an elite cohort of award-winning teachers who can influence state and national STEM teaching. Additionally, the state finalists will be recognized by the department at the Educators of Excellence Celebration in the fall.

Established by Congress in 1983, the PAEMST program authorizes the President of the United States to bestow up to 108 awards each year. Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.

For more information about the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, or to make a nomination for an outstanding STEM educator, please visit the PAEMST website.

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact