Samantha Stickley
Samantha Stickley. Photo via @SamanthaStickl3 Twitter

San Marcos Middle School science teacher Samantha Stickley was honored by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond Wednesday as one of California’s finalists for the 2023 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

“Let me offer my sincere congratulations to these educators, who we honor for their leadership and instructional practices and how they are inspiring a new generation with passion and talent for science, technology, engineering and math,” Thurmond said. “They model excellence in how we prepare California students for the challenges and advancements of the future.”

The awards are administered by the National Science Foundation on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The PAEMST is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government specifically for K-12 science, math, engineering and computer science teaching.

Stickley has 16 years of teaching experience and currently teaches seventh grade integrated science, as well as developing and leading professional learning for adult learners.

For 2022-23, those who teach grades 7-12 were eligible for the award. Presidential Award recipients are honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., and receive a $10,000 special award from the National Science Foundation.

Awards are given to teachers who teach science, technology, engineering, math and/or computer science from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Department of Defense schools, and four U.S. territories.

The California Department of Education partners with the California Mathematics Council and the California Association of Science Educators to recruit and select nominees for the program.

Each applicant must “display subject mastery, appropriate use of instructional methods and strategies, lifelong learning, and leadership in education outside the classroom,” a statement from Thurmond’s office reads. Each candidate is required to submit a 30-minute video lesson in support of their application.

Stickley’s submitted video and narrative focused on chemical reactions at the particle level.

She has also co-taught with teachers from the special education and dual language programs. Stickley’s classroom has been featured in research through Northwestern University and the University of Kansas and she was also a Spotlight Teacher for the UC San Diego Science Project.

City News Service contributed to this article.