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01-14-14: Emerald Ridge teacher is finalist for national math award
01-14-14: Emerald Ridge teacher is finalist for national math award
Posted on 01/14/2014

Emerald Ridge High School math teacher Tracie Shepard is one of eight teachers from Washington who has been selected as a state-level finalist for the national Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.


Shepard, who has been teaching in the Puyallup School District since 1989, is one of four finalists for the national award in mathematics. Another four teachers throughout the state are finalists for the science recognition.Image


“These eight amazing teachers are not only innovating in their own classrooms, they are also inspiring innovation in their colleagues,” said state Superintendent Randy Dorn. “The leadership and mentoring of teachers like these make Washington a standout in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education. Their efforts will benefit students for many years.”


In a congratulatory letter to Shepard, Dorn wrote, “I commend you on your selection from the field of outstanding candidates for this prestigious recognition … Thank you for your incredible contributions to the students and families of Washington.”


 A statewide committee comprised of content area experts and award-winning teachers selected the finalists last summer, according to information released in October by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.


The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is the highest honor for a K-12 mathematics or science teacher. Each year, the award selection alternates between elementary and secondary teachers.


To be considered, teachers must be nominated and complete a comprehensive application. The state selection committee reviews completed applications and may forward up to five nominations from mathematics and up to five from science to the national program for consideration.


National award recipients are typically announced in the spring. State-level finalists are recognized by regional and state math and science associations and invited to several annual state events for award-winning educators.


Shepard teaches calculus, pre-calculus, and Collection of Evidence (COE) algebra classes. She is also the school’s math department chairwoman and earned National Board Certification — one of the highest recognitions in the teaching profession — in 2010.


Her nominations include write-ups by Emerald Ridge High School Dean of Students Lisa Kusche and former Principal Brian Lowney, who left the high school this year to become the district’s chief academic officer of Regional Learning Community #3.


“Tracie is a uniquely gifted and talented math teacher,” Kusche wrote. “She is a master at designing a powerful, engaging learning experience.”


Kusche continued, “As a student advocate, her actions demonstrate her strong belief that every child can learn and be successful … She not only cares about every student mastering math skills, she regularly can be found helping a student with a research paper, scholarship application, or student portfolio. Thus, her students fondly call her, ‘Mama Shep.’”


Lowney referred to Shepard as “math teacher extraordinaire.”


“First and foremost, it is obvious that Tracie loves kids … all kids,” Lowney wrote. “She is able to get the most out of her students because this caring disposition is obvious to each of them. Tracie’s combination of true compassion, high standards for each student, and unbelievable teaching skill really sets her apart as an educator.”