Utah’s Outstanding Mathematics and Science Teachers

Congratulations to Utah’s 2015 recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

They are:

  • Secondary Mathematics: Nathan Auck from Horizonte Instruction and Training Center in Salt Lake
  • Secondary Science: Andrew Neilson from Logan High School in Logan

Our state winners will join other awardees in Washington, D.C. for a series of events in their honor, including professional development opportunities, discussions with policy-makers on how to improve mathematics and science education, and an awards ceremony.  In addition, awardees will receive a certificate signed by the President of the United States and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Here are their bios as published on the PAEMST official website.

Nathan Auck

Salt Lake City, UT – Mathematics
Nathan Auck . Photo courtesy of PAEMST

Nathan Auck . Photo courtesy of PAEMST

The Presidential Award is an esteemed recognition for those heeding the call to effect positive change in the world through the education of children and young adults. It provides validation for teachers committed to a career of service to their students, peers, and educational community. The award exemplifies dedication to research-based best practices, constant self-reflection, and an abundance of creativity.

For 13 years, Nathan Auck has had a transformative effect on his students’ educational experiences. He is a secondary mathematics teacher and specialist at Horizonte Instruction and Training Center in the Salt Lake School District, an alternative school whose population is overwhelmingly low income, underprivileged and/or minority. Here, Nathan has led the school-wide implementation of student work-sharing protocols, behavior self-reporting, and enhanced cognitive rigor. He currently oversees instructional improvement, curriculum building, and program design for the middle school, secondary, and adult mathematics programs.

In addition to serving on the Utah Senate-appointed Standards Review Committee and the Board of the Utah Conference for Teachers of Mathematics, Nathan was selected by the Utah State Office of Education to write and facilitate professional development for mathematics teachers throughout Utah.

Formerly, Nathan taught 9th-12th grade mathematics and science at a private high school for gifted and talented students, the Realms of Inquiry School.

Throughout his career, Nathan’s interdisciplinary collaborations with other teachers have provided students with applicative, real-world educational experiences.

Nathan holds a B.S. in environmental science from The Ohio State University and is a certified secondary mathematics teacher.


Andrew Neilson

Logan, UT – Science

Andrew Neilson. Photo Courtesy of PAEMST.

Andrew Neilson. Photo Courtesy of PAEMST.

I am humbled to have been nominated and selected for the Presidential Award. This award is especially satisfying because it is focused on effective teaching in a student-centered classroom. To be included with the previous winners is an honor. It validates my career-long efforts to improve my teaching by learning from others, sharing my own innovations, and continuing to research ways to improve student performance and enjoyment in my physics classes.

Andrew Neilson began his teaching career in 1997 at West Side High School in Dayton, ID, where he taught for eight years. From the outset, he was interested in developing new methods of teaching to improve student learning.

As an alumnus of Logan High School in Logan, UT, he was excited to join the staff in 2004. He had the opportunity to rebuild the physics program from 17 students to the current 230 students. He teaches Conceptual and Advanced Placement Physics to 10th-12th graders, where they have an exam pass rate of nearly 90 percent.

Andrew emphasizes a thorough conceptual understanding of physics rather than rote memorization and manipulation of equations. His students develop iterative models that they test to explain complex scientific phenomena as well as projects that illustrate real applications of the physics knowledge being learned. Andrew and his students live by the mantra “Science should make sense!”

In 2009, Andrew received the Teacher Recognition Award from the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program and in 2012, the Most Influential Teacher Award for Logan High School. Additionally, he has presented his research model-based inquiry and how it can be effectively integrated into physics classrooms at National Science Teachers Association conferences.

He earned both a B.S. in physical science and secondary education and a M.Ed. at Utah State University.

More details can be foundon the White House new release: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/07/02/president-obama-honors-outstanding-mathematics-and-science-teachers

For more information about the PAEMST awards go to: https://paemst.org/

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