Teachers from Manti, Sanpete County, and Providence, Cache County, received Presidential Awards Wednesday as Utah's elementary school math and science teachers of the year.
Jolene Prestwich, of Manti Elementary, was the math teacher selected while Rebecca Olson, of Providence, took the award for her ability in teaching science.Prestwich and Olson were to receive their awards Wednesday morning, and be congratulated Friday by President Bush in the White House Rose Garden. The awards carry grants of $7,500 each and substantial gifts from an array of private and corporate sources.
The winning teachers from elementary schools in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories will receive their awards individually from D. Allan Bromley, science adviser to the president and Walter Massey, director of the National Science Foundation.
Prestwich, who teaches fourth grade at Manti, deals with children 9 and 10 years old. She said math teaching has changed a great deal in the 10 years she has been in the profession.
"We are teaching fourth-graders things they would have learned in the fifth or sixth grade 10 years ago," she said.
"We give them a lot more probability, statistics, rational numbers, things they can use in problem-solving in practical applications."
"They will have to use math in everyday things like grocery shopping, buying a dress that is 30 percent off, doubling recipes, things like that."
She was nominated for the award by her principal, in part for her work in preparing the Manti curriculum, tests and materials.
"We don't buy materials; we produce all our own," she explained.
Olson said she teaches all first-grade subjects in her all-day class, including math and reading as well as science.
Her science subjects include the state's required core and "things the children are interested in."
Many of her "materials" are things the children bring to school, including butterflies, baby chicks and tadpoles.
"I do hands-on teaching at that level," Olson said. "We explore, we investigate."
The Utah awardees will attend a reception in their honor at the National Press Club on Wednesday night, appear before a Congressional committee on Thursday, and another reception at the National Air and Space Museum Thursday evening.