ASHAWAY— Clare Ornburn, a fourth grade teacher at Ashaway Elementary School, has received a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). The award represents the U.S. government’s highest honor given to K-12 teachers of science and math. According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), PAEMST awardees receive a certificate signed by the President, a trip for two to Washington, D.C., to attend recognition ceremonies and professional development events, and a $10,000 award from the NSF.
For winning the award, Ornburn credited former Principal Steven Morrone both for nominating her and for introducing the Ashaway faculty to new teaching techniques found in “Writing in Science: How to Scaffold Instruction to Support Learning” by Betsy Rupp Fulwiler (Heineman, 2007). Ornburn said that Morrone learned of the book from Sara Sweetman, University of Rhode Island Director of Education for Guiding Education in Math Science Network (GEMS-NET), which supplies the Chariho Schools with science kits.
“With this book, I realized that science should be more inquiry-based – it changed how I taught science. I was doing it all right before but I was going through the motions – it was more me teaching than me guiding my students. The kids were not really discovering – I was showing them. So it kind of flipped my way of thinking,” she said.
“My students became more scientific thinkers. They were asking the big questions and discovering the big answers and really thinking about what is happening and why it’s happening and how it relates to the big world,” she added.
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