• Oct. 17, 2019

    Curriculum leader earns national teaching award

    Mr. Steve Miller Steve Miller, Upper St. Clair High School mathematics teacher and curriculum leader, has been named a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics & Science Teaching. He is one of 215 in the United States and four in Pennsylvania to earn this honor.

    “The Presidential Award recognizes teachers who have dedicated themselves to continual reflection and improvement of their craft for the betterment of their students,” Mr. Miller said. “To be included in this group is both humbling and motivating. It is a great responsibility to live up to the standard set by past awardees.”

    Established in 1983, PAEMST is the highest award kindergarten through 12th grade mathematics and science teachers can receive from the U.S. government. Mr. Miller was named a finalist for the award in 2017. The award alternates years between kindergarten through sixth grade and seventh-12th grade teachers – in 2018 elementary awardees were announced and, subsequently, the the secondary award winners were announced on Oct. 15, 2019.

    “Mr. Steve Miller is certainly someone who will represent with dignity the mission and ideals of PAEMST,” Dr. Timothy Wagner, Upper St. Clair High School principal, said. “His flexibility, future-focused thinking, and insightful care for others ranks Steve among the top educators I have encountered in my career across K-16 settings.”

    From flipped classrooms to badging to competency-based grading, Mr. Miller embraces new instructional strategies. 

    “Mr. Miller sees the future of education with clarity, models a growth mindset, and is voracious in his desire to learn more about trends,” Dr. Timothy Wagner, Upper St. Clair High School principal, said. “An authority in ‘best practices,’ Mr. Miller never abandons what is best for students as he explores new ways of thinking about teaching and learning.”

    Dr. Wagner noted that it’s Mr. Miller’s genuine care and insight for those around him that make him such a fitting honoree.

    “Not only is Mr. Miller an expert in breaking down complex math concepts for our most struggling as well as most advanced learners, but he also extends himself beyond the content,” Dr. Wagner added. “With an undergraduate background in computer science, students regularly seek Mr. Miller’s wisdom in terms of college, career and life preparation. It’s not uncommon for Mr. Miller to be engaged with students all eight periods of the day, as he recognizes that his role in the school is first and foremost about serving children well.”

    PAEMST nominees complete a rigorous application process that requires them to demonstrate their excellence in content knowledge and ability to adapt to a broad range of learners and teaching environments. A panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, education researchers, school and district administrators, and educators review applications at the state and national levels. Nominee recommendations are sent to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for final selection. Teachers are selected based on their distinction in the classroom and dedication to improving STEM education.

    Presidential Awardees receive a certificate signed by the President of the United States, a 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. Since its founding in 1983, more than 5,000 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession.

    “Receiving this recognition inspires me to continue to improve my practice for my students and gives me confidence to be a voice for STEM education beyond my school,” Mr. Miller said.

    Anyone—principals, teachers, parents, students, or members of the general public—may nominate teachers for the award. Michael Nastac, a 2016 Upper St. Clair High School graduate, nominated Mr. Miller for the award.

    Mr. Miller joined the Upper St. Clair High School faculty in 2004 after a successful career as a senior software developer where he designed, developed and tested software for Carnegie Learning’s Cognitive Tutor program, a nationally-recognized mathematics curriculum. He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in teaching secondary mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh.

    Awardees come from schools in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity schools, and schools in the United States territories of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands. Nominations and awards are facilitated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation.

    Applications for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching are evaluated using the following five Dimensions of Outstanding Teaching:

    • Mastery of mathematics or science content appropriate for the grade level taught.
    • Use of instructional methods and strategies that are appropriate for students in the class and that support student learning.
    • Effective use of student assessments to evaluate, monitor and improve student learning.
    • Reflective practice and life-long learning to improve teaching and student learning.
    • Leadership in education outside the classroom. 

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