The Main Street School educator is the national winner in Ohio for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Known as PAEMST, it is the highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th-grade mathematics or science (including computer science) teacher can receive.
“It’s a long process,” said Principal Dan Bauman, who hosted a breakfast in Burns’ honor Friday in the library.
One educator in science and math is selected from every state. More than 4,600 teachers have been honored for their classroom contributions and to their profession since 1983.
“It was a very long process. It was a very intense process,” Burns said.
Honorees receive a certificate signed by the president, a trip to Washington to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation, according to the PAEMST recognition program website. PAEMST is a collaboration between the National Science Foundation and Executive Office of the President.
“It shows science is not just a subject. She brings it to life for the kids,” Bauman said, referring to Burns receiving the award.
Bauman said Burns excels at the “real-world application” of science.
Burns said she gets her students to engage with scientists from around the world whom she has met through various professional development opportunities.
“Sometimes we’ll Skype,” she added. “We go outside a lot.”
Burns has started a program at Main Street called Letters to Pre-Scientists for her students in her Reading in the Content Area class.
“Some of my students will be pen pals with scientists. They will communicate four times a year,” she said.
Burns hopes her students will use the experience to get a “good science background” and be inspired with intriguing ideas for their spring research projects.
Modestly and with a smile, Burns said receiving the PAEMST honor is special and exciting.
“I think it’s a validation of what I do, but also what the science department does. And I hope we get the kids thinking continually about science, not just researching it,” she said.