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Clayton teacher awaits word on ‘presidential’ honor

Photo by Johnny Jackson 
State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge poses with Kemp Primary School first-grade teacher Tonya Pugh in her classroom. She will find out in June if she is a winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Photo by Johnny Jackson State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge poses with Kemp Primary School first-grade teacher Tonya Pugh in her classroom. She will find out in June if she is a winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

HAMPTON — Tonya Pugh will find out in June if she is a winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Pugh is a first-grade teacher at Kemp Primary School. She said she was nominated by a parent for the national “outstanding teaching” award.

She was named last fall as one of three finalists for the national honor, the highest a mathematics or science teacher can achieve. It recognizes teachers who give informed, high-quality instruction that enhances student learning.

Pugh said she lives for the “a-ha” moment when a student figures it out and hours of lessons culminate into that student’s understanding and ability.

“I think it’s exposure,” said Pugh. “The more our children are exposed to in science, the more competitive they will be. The sky is the limit in what they can learn.”

The awards program was established by Congress in 1983 and authorizes the President of the United States to bestow up to 108 awards annually to mathematics and science teachers from each of the 50 states and four U.S. territories.

Pugh would represent the state as its Presidential Award for Excellence science teacher if she is chosen.

The National Science Foundation administers the award on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Winners will be selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians and educators, according to the foundation’s website.

In the past, the foundation awarded winners $10,000 to be used at their discretion and invited them to participate in an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.