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January 19, 2021
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JP O'Hare

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State Finalists Selected for 2020 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Two New York State mathematics teachers are state-level finalists for the 2020 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) at the elementary level, grades K-6. Interim State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa announced today. The PAEMST, one of the most prestigious honors in the nation for teachers, recognizes exemplary teaching and leadership in science and mathematics education.

“Our PAEMST finalists represent New York’s outstanding math teachers and serve as models and inspirations to students and fellow teachers,” Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. said. “They are innovating in their classrooms each day, opening opportunities for their students and preparing them for careers in our changing economy.”

“The teachers being recognized as PAEMST finalists have found innovative and engaging ways to teach students about STEM and we are grateful to have such wonderful and skillful mathematics teachers in New York,” said Interim Commissioner Betty A. Rosa. “These talented, dedicated educators have found the right formula for making Mathematics fascinating for the children they teach.”

2020 PAEMST Finalists

The 2020 PAEMST finalists from New York are:

2020 PAEMST New York State Mathematics Finalists (K-6)





Leslie Anson

Millbrook Middle School

Millbrook Central School District

Millbrook, NY

Lynda Brennan

Richard P. Connor Elementary School

Suffern Central School District

Suffern, NY



The State finalists complete a rigorous application process that requires them to demonstrate their excellence in content knowledge, as well as an effective use of instructional methods and assessments to evaluate, monitor, and improve student learning. The finalists also serve as leaders in education outside of the classroom. State finalists are chosen by a state selection committee made up of teachers, district personnel, representatives from educator organizations, and past awardees.

The finalists’ applications are submitted to the PAEMST National Review and Selection Committee in Washington D.C., which will determine the final award winners from each state. This committee is comprised of prominent mathematicians, scientists, mathematics/science education researchers, district level personnel, and classroom teachers.

Teachers who are selected as PAEMST awardees receive a $10,000 award from National Science Foundation (NSF), a Presidential certificate, and join an elite cohort of award-winning teachers who can influence state and national STEM teaching.

Meet the Nominees

Leslie Anson, Millbrook Central School District

Leslie Anson teaches mathematics to 6th and 7th grade students at Millbrook Middle School. She has been with the district for eight years. Leslie earned an Honors Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Delaware, majoring in Elementary Education with a concentration in Middle School Mathematics. Leslie has also earned a Master of Education degree from SUNY New Paltz, choosing Childhood Special Education as her major. Leslie holds NYS Teaching Certifications in grades 1-6 Childhood Education, grades 1-6 Students with Disabilities, and grades 5-9 Mathematics.

A valuable trait Leslie holds is a growth mindset. She believes intelligence and abilities can be developed through hard work and dedication and says she wants to improve her teaching by honestly reflecting on her lessons. Leslie is dedicated to her students, allowing them to come to their own understanding of math concepts. In order to meet the needs of diverse learners in her classroom, Leslie incorporates multisensory instructional activities into her lessons, including visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.

Lynda Brennan, Suffern Central School District

Lynda Brennan is a Math Specialist for grades K-5 at Richard P. Connor Elementary School. Lynda provides daily Academic Intervention Services for grades 2-5 and supports teachers and students based on the needs of the individual class. Lynda has a total of 27 years of experience in education, the last 11 at Suffern Central School District. Lynda earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Marketing and Management. She went on to Fordham University in Massachusetts to earn a Master of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education. Lynda holds NYS Teaching Certifications in K-6 Elementary Education and Business and Distributive Education.

To capture the students’ attention, Lynda incorporates clever interdisciplinary connections into her lessons, like using the Dr. Seuss story “Horton Hears a Who.” Her use of incorporating instructional stories/math-talk activities into lessons is an innovative way she found to highlight the Standards for Mathematical Practice. To contribute to her school community, Lynda developed a "Great Math Challenge," an annual school-wide celebration of problem solving.

Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST)

The PAEMST was established by the White House in 1983 and is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Every year, the President of the United States recognizes outstanding teachers in Mathematics and Science (including computer science) from across the nation.

Nominations are now being taken for the 2020-2021 award cycle for teachers of grades 7-12 mathematics (including computer science) or science. For more information regarding the award process, visit the PAEMST website or contact the NYSED Office of Curriculum and Instruction at