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October 17, 2019

Asheville School science instructor Laura Lawrence wins nation’s top teaching award in STEM

Asheville School Science Instructor Laura Lawrence received word from President Donald J. Trump this week that she’s the recipient of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). Lawrence is the only 7-12 science instructor selected from across North Carolina to win this award.

“This award affirms the value of dedicating myself professionally to helping students grow as scientists and as learners,” said Lawrence, who was nominated for the award in 2017. She accepted the award on Thursday, October 17 at the Sidney R. Yates Auditorium – Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C.

Established in 1983, PAEMST is the highest award given by the U.S. Government to kindergarten through 12th grade teachers of mathematics and science, including computer science.

“This award encourages me to continue the pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning through collaboration with educators and reflection,” said Lawrence, who has taught science at Asheville School for 13 years and has been a science educator for 17 years. “It inspires me to lead beyond my classroom, in order to have the greatest impact on my students’ lives. This award celebrates all those who have taught and supported me in my pedagogical development, especially my best teachers—my students.”

As an awardee, Lawrence was presented a certificate signed by the President of the United States, traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities, and received a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.

As part of the nomination process, Lawrence submitted a lesson on cell division that is rooted in scientific modeling. Inspired by the American Modeling Teachers Association curriculum, which stresses critical reasoning and skills-based learning, Lawrence relies on modeling throughout the courses she teaches at Asheville School. In modeling-based learning, students must describe scientific phenomena in their own terms and reason through observations to create a model that encompasses the known data and lends predictive value to the subject they are studying.

“I am enjoying two and a half days of professional development with some of the best math and science teachers in the country,” said Lawrence, who earned an M.Ed. with a focus on instructional technology at Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis. She is certified in secondary science and is a National Board Certified Teacher. “I am excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with teacher leaders and see this as a springboard for science teaching leadership at the national and state level.”

Read more about the awards here<>.