Genesee teachers receive nation's highest honors in math and science teaching

GENESEE, ID - The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science teaching is awarded annually to outstanding K-12 teachers across the nation.

Reporter Rachel Dubrovin introduces us to two local teachers who recently received the award for the 2012 school year.

President Obama recently recognized 102 teachers across the nation for their excellence in teaching math and science. Two of them are right here in Genesee."

"It's a great honor to be recognized in such a small district at a national level, that you're competing with schools of all different sizes and huge demographic compared to what we have here at Genesee," said Genesee School District Superintendent Wendy Moore.

Moore nominated 4th grade teacher Donna Wommack and fifth grade teacher Tauna Johnson for an award from the Idaho State Board of Education in 2012.

"Those are two teachers that when I do observations that just really stand out in the area of math and science," said Moore.

The award from the state qualified them as candidates for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. In late December, Johnson received the award for science, and Wommack received the award for math.

"My students were in art and I was just checking email, and there was an e-mail that said, 'Congratulations,'" said Genesee School District Fifth Grade Teacher Tauna Johnson.

"It was just exciting, and tremendous, and there was lots of laughing," said Genesee School District Fourth Grade Teacher Donna Wommack.

"Amazing," said Johnson. "Surprised, shocked, all of the above."

The award recognizes that math and science are vital to a student's education.

"I think those are sometimes our hardest subjects to teach," said Moore.

And Johnson and Wommack are up for the challenge. They said keeping students engaged is the key to learning.

"What do we need math for?" said Wommack. "And I think my focus has always been to try and help kids see that math, you can use it every day, and in lots of ways."

"Over the years, I've developed a lot of different hands-on lessons," said Johnson. " I think it's really important for students to have a variety of opportunities and activities in learning any subject."

"And I think it's really important to just keep learning myself, so that I'm able to bring back ideas for staff, and especially new things that I can try with the students," said Wommack.

In addition to a certificate signed by the president, Johnson and Wommack will also receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.

Johnson has been teaching fifth grade at the Genesee School District for 24 years, while Wommack has been teaching fourth grade for 19 years.