Bartlesville Public Schools’ Fentress is finalist for national science teaching award

posted Sep 24, 2019, 2:30 PM by Laci Harris   [ updated Sep 25, 2019, 6:31 AM ]
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister has announced that Bartlesville High School science teacher Cheryl Fentress is one of three state-level finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), the highest recognition a K-12 mathematics or science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. 

Cheryl Fentress has 35 years of teaching experience and teaches ninth-grade Honors Biology I at Bartlesville High School. She is a member of the Bartlesville District Science Fair Board, was the 2019 Bartlesville High School Teacher of the Year, and has been the sponsor of student science fair projects at the local, state, and international levels. Ms. Fentress maintains memberships in the National Science Teachers Association and the National Association of Biology Teachers. She has previously been the President of the Bartlesville Education Association and a delegate for both the Oklahoma Education Association and the National Education Association.

“The teacher's task is to initiate the learning process and then get out of the way,” Fentress said, describing her teaching philosophy. “My job is to provide meaningful science experiences for students, then work together with them to build an understanding of science concepts.”

The other state finalists are Brigit Minden, Central High Public Schools (Marlow) and Casey Lambert, Moore Public Schools. They were chosen by a selection committee of teachers, district-level personnel, representatives from higher education and past awardees. Each finalist demonstrated a mastery of math or science instruction and the effective use of student assessments to improve student learning. Up to two Oklahoma finalists could be named national recipients of the award.

“As demand increases for professionals proficient in higher math and science, exceptional teachers like Brigit, Cheryl, and Casey are essential to preparing our students for college and successful careers,” Hofmeister said. “Their model for excellence shines a spotlight on education in Oklahoma and helps inspire others to enter the teaching profession. I congratulate them on receiving this well-deserved national recognition.” 

The national recipients will represent all 50 states and U.S. territories. Winners will receive a paid trip to Washington, D.C., to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities, a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation, and a certificate signed by the President of the United States. 

Over the years, three Bartlesville teachers received PAEMST awards: Bartlesville Mid-High chemistry teacher Colleen Bennett in 2005, Hoover Elementary math teacher Jacquelyn Coolley in 2000, and Bartlesville Mid-High math teacher Margaret Butler in 1986.

BHS biology teacher Cheryl Fentress is a finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching