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June 16, 2021
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JP O'Hare

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State Finalists Selected For 2021 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Two New York State mathematics teachers and three New York State science teachers are state-level finalists for the 2021 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) at the secondary level, grades 7-12, 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 mathematics and science education.

“These finalists are examples of the outstanding talent found among New York State STEM teachers,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. “Each has demonstrated that by providing engaging and innovative instructional practices each day, we can prepare all students to be successful in the technology-driven world in which we live.”

“Congratulations to each of the outstanding New York educators named as this year’s PAEMST finalists,” said Commissioner Rosa. “The finalists are role models not only for their students but also for their fellow educators as they work every day to bring the exciting world of STEM to life in their classrooms.”

2021 PAEMST New York State Finalists

2021 PAEMST New York State Mathematics Finalists (7-12)
Finalist School District Location

Ms. Rachel Linehan

Bethlehem High School

Bethlehem Central School District

Delmar, NY

Mr. Harry O’Malley

Casey Middle School

Williamsville Central School District

East Amherst, NY


2021 PAEMST New York State Science Finalists (7-12)
Finalist School District Location

Ms. Kristen Drury

William Floyd High School

William Floyd School District

Mastic Beach, NY

Dr. Sarah English

Sweet Home High School

Sweet Home Central School District

Amherst, NY

Dr. Brittany Kozlenko

Brewster High School

Brewster Central School District

Brewster, 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 State 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 Finalists - Mathematics

Rachel Linehan, Bethlehem Central School District

Rachel Linehan teaches mathematics and computer science to high school students at Bethlehem High School. Rachel started her career at Bethlehem CSD nine years ago and has been with the district ever since. In preparation for her teaching career, Rachel earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Adolescence Education and Mathematics from the State University of New York College at Oneonta. Rachel has also earned a Master of Science degree from the College of St. Rose, choosing Educational Technology Specialist as her major. Rachel holds NYS Teaching Certifications in Mathematics 7-12, Physics 7-12 and Educational Technology Specialist.

Within her teaching style, Rachel incorporates strategies to involve each student with leading questions and explanations. Rachel utilizes many resources to increase student participation and collaboration and uses several instructional methods and strategies to routinely meet the needs of diverse learners. Rachel uses collaborative assessments and demonstrates how some assessment techniques provide both a formative assessment of skills while also developing community and advancing collaboration within the classroom environment. Rachel’s impact on colleagues and students in continuing to work toward educational excellence is highly noted. As a Master Teacher, Rachel incorporates her students’ choice and culture into the classroom. Rachel has clearly contributed at the regional level by being a technology coach and assists Siena College in recruiting and training teachers to teach Computer Science.

Harry O’Malley, Williamsville Central School District

Harry O’Malley teaches mathematics at Casey Middle School to 5th - 8th grade students and teaches accelerated 8th grade students through the University at Buffalo Gifted Math Program. Harry has been teaching for the last 11 years in his current position with a total of 14 years’ experience. Prior to starting his teaching career, Harry earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics Education from Brooklyn College and a Master of Science degree in Education specializing in Mathematics Education from Buffalo State College. Harry holds NYS Teaching Certifications in Mathematics Education 5-9, and Mathematics Education 7-12.

Harry relates mathematical concepts to their real-world applications. Within his classroom lessons, Harry uses many instructional strategies such as game-based lessons, problem-based lessons, research projects, creating story problems and visual models. When teaching, Harry connects student knowledge to the lesson demonstration. He has the students write their own stories to bring the students’ lives into the mathematics and to explain the concept they are learning. Harry developed a student-centered assessment protocol, Fill, which is used schoolwide and continually uses formative assessment in his lessons. To build community, Harry utilizes culturally responsive teaching methods and holds community circles. He mentors new teachers, teaching assistants and other educators and provides professional development. Harry contributes to educational math excellence in a variety of ways at the district, state and national levels, including the Master Teacher Program.

Meet the Finalists – Science

Ms. Kristen Drury, William Floyd Central School District

Kristen Drury teaches chemistry to high school students at William Floyd High School. Kristen has been teaching for 15 years and has spent her entire teaching career at William Floyd CSD. Before starting her career, Kristen earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry and a Master of Arts degree in Liberal Science with a concentration in Science Education. Kristen holds a NYS Teaching Certification in Chemistry.

Kristen is a part of the NYS Master Teacher Program and incorporates several instructional strategies within her lessons including direct instruction, guided teacher questioning, graphing and use of models. Through her teaching style, Kristen stresses the importance of creating models and evaluating graphs to explain concepts or phenomenon, which applies to many aspects of learning. Kristen uses problem and phenomenon-based instruction, carefully selected student teams with roles, metacognition and flipped videos. To meet the needs of diverse learners and support critical thinking in the classroom, Kristen tailors her instruction to promote students to use their strengths and what knowledge and skills they bring to the classroom. She uses formative assessment as a major component of determining student understanding in class. Kristen became one of the first NGSS ambassadors at the school level and created NGSS resources to be shared with other educators.

Dr. Sarah English, Sweet Home Central School District

Dr. Sarah English teaches chemistry to high school students at Sweet Home High School. Sarah has spent her entire 21-year teaching career at Sweet Home CSD. Sarah earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from the University of Rochester, a Master of Science degree in Science Education from Niagara University and a Doctor of Philosophy and Science Education from the University at Buffalo. Sarah holds NYS Teaching Certifications in Biology and Chemistry.

She helps students to strengthen their understanding by connecting prior knowledge with current concepts, incorporating many instructional strategies into her lessons. Sarah allows students to practice modeling and revision of work after student collaboration. The strategies support learners at different levels of understanding and encourages them to engage in discourse from their peers. Sarah relates the current concepts being taught to future coursework and real-world applications. She thinks outside of the box having the students use chalk markers to write on their desks. Sarah has incorporated best practices from vetted resources for science instruction. She assesses her students by monitoring the learning, and when needed, adjusting the teaching based on student responses. Student written reflections and submissions are framed as explanations of concepts are part of the routine assessments Sarah incorporates into her lessons. She highlights the success of students who participate in the science club and then go on to receive internships or choose to move into STEM-related careers.

Dr. Brittany Kozlenko, Brewster Central School District

Dr. Brittany Kozlenko teaches physics to high school students at Brewster High School. She has spent the entirety of her 11-year teaching career in the Brewster CSD. Brittany earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Fairfield University, a Master of Science degree in Instructional Technology from Western Connecticut State University, and a Doctor of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction from St. John's University. Brittany holds a NYS Teaching Certification in Physics 7-12.

Brittany utilizes varied instructional approaches including the flipped classroom, project-based learning, reading articles and discussions. Her use of student-centered learning, including student peer discussions and student choice in responses, allows her students to apply what they have learned in new and relevant ways. Students are given the opportunity to complete rich and authentic performance tasks to demonstrate their understanding of science. Brittany is innovative with developing student tasks, such as creating a homemade Van de Graff generator, and this creativity and authenticity helps motivate students. Brittany strives to revise her lessons based on student learning, adding new activities and trying new techniques only leads to further success. She makes a sincere effort to dive into student identities to find role models to match. Her use of alternative assessment empowers students and opens doors for collaboration with colleagues. Brittany focuses on improving instruction and sharing resources. She provides professional development for other teachers and seeks out opportunities to share outside the school community.

Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching

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 STEM (including computer science) from across the nation.

For more information regarding the award process, visit the PAEMST website or contact the Office of Curriculum and Instruction at