Fulton and Fayette teachers win presidential medals for math, science

President Obama today named 97 mathematics and science teachers as recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.  The two Georgia winners are Carol Taylor of Fayette County schools for math and Kelly Stewart of Fulton County schools for science

Dr. Taylor teaches math at Rising Starr Middle School and was Fayette County’s top teacher of the year in 2009. I found a news story about her in which she noted, “I am a wife, a mother, a grandmother, yet also a private pilot of a single engine aircraft, an advanced certified diver, windsurfer, marathon runner, student, Sunday school teacher, and piano and flute player. I approach my students with the attitude that if you can dream it, you can do it.”

Kelly Stewart is a former science teacher at Ridgeview Charter Middle School where she was teacher of the year in 2011. She is now a school data analyst for Fulton County Schools.

According to the White House:

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is awarded annually to outstanding K-12 science and mathematics teachers from across the country. The winners are selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators following an initial selection process done at the state level. Each year the award alternates between teachers teaching kindergarten through 6th grade and those teaching 7th through 12th grades. The 2011 awardees named today teach 7th through 12th grades.

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, including visits with members of Congress and the administration.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

24 comments Add your comment

Bill

June 12th, 2012
12:06 pm

As Fayette cuts her pay, along with the rest of ours.

catlady

June 12th, 2012
12:18 pm

Good for them!

What is a “school data analyst?”

William Casey

June 12th, 2012
12:23 pm

Great teacher becomes data analyst? Maybe they should have paid her more to remain in the classroom. No knock on her, just an observation.

Maureen Downey

June 12th, 2012
12:27 pm

@William and Catlady. We think alike. Here is the note I sent the Fulton schools communications person this morning. They are checking on what Kelly does exactly as data analyst seems an under utilization of her talents. (But that is also what she is called in the school board minutes that I checked today. The minutes, by the way, do describe her new analyst job as a promotion.)

What is Kelly’s title now with Fulton? I want to post but am unsure of exactly what she does for Fulton. IN the AJC, we recently called her a data analyst. But I also want to know if she still deals with students as readers are going to wonder why an award-winning teacher is now out of the classroom.

Maureen Downey

June 12th, 2012
1:00 pm

To all, Here is the Fulton response on why Kelly Stewart is no longer in the classroom but working as a school data analyst for the district:

In that role she works directly with teachers and principals in the analysis and interpretation of student assessment data. From that analysis she is able to help teachers understand what is working well, and where improvement may be needed. While we knew Kelly was a very strong teacher when she was hired for this role, the Presidential Awards had not been announced, so what we thought was true is now confirmed. In her current role, Kelly is able to share her considerable talents with other teachers in the district, and extend her knowledge beyond the four walls of her classroom.

A personal note: The analyst job is a promotion and I certainly think educators should take opportunities for higher pay and status, but wish we could figure ways to keep the best teachers in the classroom.

Peter Smagorinsky

June 12th, 2012
1:15 pm

Either way, kudos to both!

Goodforkids

June 12th, 2012
1:18 pm

Congratulations to these two teachers for their outstanding work.
While I appreciate the judicious use of meaningful data, FCS is In the throes of the nationwide manic phase of bowing down to the data gods. It is an atrociously mistaken focus and misuse of limited funds. I can at least be grateful that a real teacher with some real understanding of real kids is helping churn some of the tidal wave of data into something teachers might actually use. Can assure you that as an FCS parent of three, I don’t get much meaning from state tests (CRCT test results are MEANINGLESS) nor county data (they keep giving lots more bubble tests to my young kids in the ever-increasing efforts to place them correctly for continuous achievement as well as see if they have learned the last session’s covered curriculum). They act like their have their game together to the point that they are giving pre and post and whatever else tests but it really just means they are draining the interest in learning out of the children’s brains by making them use their pencil lead for more empty circles. Then there are the private companies we are paying to score children’s writing assessments…don’t even get me started on that today. Maybe this award-winning teacher will work from the inside to help make it more sane. I doubt it, since they are working towards teacher salary being based, in part, on their students’ bubble tests.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

June 12th, 2012
1:39 pm

We teachers are all having to become “data analysts” these days. Data drives everything. Ironic for me, since I initially started off in grad school for educational statistics, and decided I preferred working with children over working with numbers. Though I would have made a much higher salary as an educational “data analyst” I switched to a traditional educational track and have been in the classroom for over 20 years. NOW I both teach and analyze data … but I get paid as a teacher. Two jobs for the price of one! Lucky educational system.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

June 12th, 2012
1:41 pm

Oh… and I certainly wish to offer my congratulations to both excellent teachers – I am sure they do their best for the school systems in whatever capacity.

What's Best for Kids?

June 12th, 2012
2:39 pm

Kelly Stewart is an assett no matter what her role in education. I have had the pleasure of working with her in her new role, and I can’t say enough good things about her work ethic and her ability to pull information based on a simple question from a very non-data person.

My questions always start with, “I wonder if…”, and twenty minutes later, I have my answer and it has the data to back it up.

Yes, the classrooms are lacking because many great teachers and Kelly Stewart go for more money and promotions. There’s the answer to the legislators and board members who think that we are completely altrusitc. Maybe if teaching paid more and was given more respect, the best and the brightest would stay in the classroom. Just sayin’.

posterchild

June 12th, 2012
2:46 pm

Dr. Taylor taught me 8th grade algebra waaaaaaay back in 1993. She was an excellent teacher then, and I’m glad to see she is getting the recognition she deserves.

[...] Fulton and Fayette teachers win presidential medals for math, science … story about her in which she noted, “I am a wife, a mother, a grandmother, yet also a private pilot of a single engine aircraft, an advanced certified diver, windsurfer, marathon runner, student, Sunday school teacher, and piano and harp player. Read more on Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Ron F.

June 12th, 2012
3:22 pm

What’s best: you’re right- it’s a tough decision to move such a talented teacher into a non-classroom position, but look at how’s she’s impacting not only a classroom of students, she’s influencing multiple classrooms. It seems all too often we bring in people who are good number crunchers or folks who weren’t so great in the classroom and give them influential positions. I’ve seen it happen way too often, and was once under the evaluation of a former colleague who admitted she couldn’t cut it in the classroom any longer. I taught rings around her and she knew it and made a point to find fault, however trivial it was with my teaching. I hate to see one go, but if Kelly can continue to have a positive impact on teachers and kids, she’s the kind of person we need more of in influential positions in education.

Paulo977

June 12th, 2012
3:45 pm

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming…

June 12th, 2012
1:39 pm
______________________________________
I am a retired teacher and I HEAR YOU

Hang in there , the kids need you , especially now!

Attentive Parent

June 12th, 2012
3:53 pm

Maureen-I think what you and Fulton are saying is she uses the data to then act as a coach to the classroom teachers?

District-wide rather than school-based?

Maureen Downey

June 12th, 2012
3:57 pm

@Attentive, Yes, I believe she is a district-wide analyst.
Maureen

William Casey

June 12th, 2012
4:49 pm

I proposed a whole different level of teacher and called it “senior teacher” long before I was one myself. The idea was to keep proven excellent teachers in the classroom and also use them to help less accomplished teachers improve. Since it required paying such experts at a near “administrator” level, the idea went nowhere. Instead, we got more self-selected assistant principals and lots of central office personnel of dubious value. Oh, well.

catlady

June 12th, 2012
5:23 pm

I’ve got the certification in data analysis offered years ago. Wonder if I can be an analyst, too?

Ole Guy

June 12th, 2012
6:47 pm

When I first entered the military…shortly after they stopped pitching hachets, spears and arrows at one another…I was told that there was a time to shine, and a time when it’s best-advised to “stay under the radar”. “When one shines”, I was told, “One often attracts unwanted attention”. Be careful what you wish for, teachers…you might just get it (in the six).

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

June 13th, 2012
6:52 am

KUDOS to these two fine teachers and the thousands of others like them across the length and breadth of our state.

By the way, classroom teacher is the highest position in a public school system, educrats’ opinions notwithstanding.

What's Best for Kids?

June 13th, 2012
7:49 am

I hate it when I have to subscribe to a magazine to see the articles…

What's Best for Kids?

June 13th, 2012
7:50 am

oops…wrong blog.

skewed philosophy

June 14th, 2012
1:52 pm

I applaud both individuals for their accomplishments, but fear Dr. Taylor is teaching a somewhat skewed philosophy….I wanted to play in the NBA, but being a white man who couldn’t jump, even at 6′3″ I couldn’t make it, even though I dreamed it. I also wanted to play professional baseball, and dreamed it, but can’t hit a curve ball.

Somehow, neither of those dreams came true.

Dreamed of being an astronaut, but had bad motion sickness, etc……get my drift?

RDF

June 14th, 2012
9:14 pm

As my eighth grade geometry teacher, Dr. Taylor had a profound impact on my childhood and remained one of the most supportive forces in my life through high school, undergrad, and into my career. She was a spectacular teacher and took a genuine interest in motivating her students. I find it no coincidence that when I took the GMAT ten years later, geometry was the only topic for which I did not have to review at all. She deserves this award and many more like it!