Teacher at Bend’s North Star Elementary receives top math honor
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- North Star Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Amber Linn was recently honored as a state finalist for the Presidential Award for Math and Science Teaching, the highest recognition that teachers receive for outstanding teaching in the areas of science, technology, engineering, math or computer science.
“I’m excited to be recognized for doing something I love: teaching math and finding ways to reach students from all backgrounds and understanding levels with the wonderful and often complex, concepts found in fourth grade mathematics,” Linn said.
To be considered for the award, Linn drafted a comprehensive write-up explaining her approach for outstanding teaching. She also put together a lesson explaining the relationship between fractions and decimals and was filmed throughout the one-hour lesson by her friend and colleague, Bend-La Pine Schools math coach Kerry Morton.
“Amber models the essence of effective mathematics instruction,” said Morton. “Her inquiry-oriented stance toward learning and teaching, her ability to challenge all students to think deeply about important mathematical ideas, her ongoing personal search for deepened mathematical content knowledge, and her capacity to inspire both students and colleagues make her an outstanding candidate for the Presidential Award.”
According to Linn, successfully teaching fourth-grade math is much more than explaining the relationship between fractions and decimals, rather it’s about changing mindsets and “raising math status,” as she puts it.
“At the beginning of every year, and throughout the year, I do a great deal of work to eliminate negativity about math and preconceived ideas that it is too difficult for some students to comprehend,” Linn said. “My job is to recognize that students in my classroom possess different levels of understanding and to let them all contribute valuable insights to our conversations. Allowing for a judgement-free exchange of ideas is how we raise math status in my classroom and erode the idea that ‘math is too hard’.”
As a state finalist, Linn becomes eligible to represent Oregon at the national level. State winners receive a certificate signed by the President of the United States, a paid trip to Washington, D.C., to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation. Linn will learn about next steps in the selection process sometime this summer.
Linn is one of seven teachers from Bend-La Pine Schools to receive this distinction since 2005.
Learn more about the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science at www.paemst.org.