Wentzville School District teachers Amy Bielke and Rebekah Messick have both been selected as Finalists for the 2020 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). The award is the highest recognition that a K-12 mathematics or science teacher can receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. Bielke teaches third-grade mathematics at Wabash Elementary School and Messick teaches sixth-grade science at Heritage Intermediate. “What an incredible honor to be a finalist for the PAEMST. I have a passion for mathematics and truly believe that all students should learn to love math,” shared Bielke, one of only three educators in Missouri to be chosen as a state finalist in mathematics. “As educators, it is so important to create a mathematics classroom culture in which students use creative thinking, unique problem-solving methodologies, target conceptual understanding, and promote intellectual flexibility. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the most dedicated and hard-working professionals.” Bielke has worked for the WSD since 2004.
The awards are given to mathematics and science teachers from each of the 50 states and four U.S. jurisdictions. It recognizes those teachers who develop and implement a high-quality instructional program that enhances student learning. As state-level finalists, Bielke and Messick are both now candidates for the Presidential Award and the White House will announce those winners next year. Those selected for this Presidential honor will receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC, for an awards ceremony, educational events, and visits with members of Congress and the Administration.
“I am honored to be a finalist for the Presidential Award and I am grateful to work in a district with amazing colleagues that encourage me and help me grow,” said Messick, who has worked for the WSD for eight years. “Every year I try to be a better teacher than I was the year before, and the application process for this award gave me the opportunity to reflect on my practices more thoroughly than ever before. I am passionate about science education and I’m grateful to be recognized for something that I love.” Messick is one of only two educators in Missouri to be chosen as a state finalist in science. Bielke and Messick represent the ninth and tenth WSD educators since 2012 to receive this prestigious recognition for excellence in teaching. Four WSD educators: Laura Parn (2012), Katherine Schack (2014), Stacey Wade (2017), and Terri Politte (2018), were all named recipients of the Presidential Award during that time.
“Amy and Rebekah are both deserving teachers of this distinguished recognition,” said WSD Superintendent Dr. Curtis Cain. “They join a long line of outstanding and respected educational leaders in Missouri and the Wentzville School District, and we are extremely proud of their accomplishments on behalf of students.”
The PAEMST award was established by Congress in 1983, and the program authorizes the President of the United States to bestow up to 108 awards each year. Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education. The National Science Foundation administers PAEMST on behalf of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.