Edgar teacher receives presidential award
President Donald Trump on Aug. 3 announced that Katie Haas, an Edgar Middle School math teacher, will receive a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).
Awardees are selected from schools in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity (Do- DEA) schools, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the United States territories. Nominations and awards are facilitated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation.
Haas, an Edgar High School graduate who has taught at her home school for nine years, said her approach to math instruction is less about teaching math content (“how to calculate an area”) and more about having students come up with their own problem solutions and then explain them to other classmates.
“We are more about math talk,” she said. “Being able to explain your thinking is a skill needed in every field.”
Haas said changes to the Edgar math curriculum has improved standardized test scores. When she arrived in the district, middle school test scores skidded below national averages. Now, they are consistently above.
The teacher said she credits the Edgar Board of Education and school administration for providing her with professional development opportunities over the years. “My award is a testament to them pushing me to strive better,” she said.”Kudos to them.”
Haas said this year’s award winners will gather in Washington, D.C. for a three-day conference after the COVID- 19 pandemic is over.
Established in 1983, PAEMST is the highest award given by the U.S. government to kindergarten through grade 12 teachers of mathematics and science, including computer science.
A panel of mathematicians, scientists and educators at the state and national levels assess the applications before recommending nominees to OSTP. Teachers are selected based on their distinction in the classroom and dedication to improving science, technology, engineering, and math education.
Haas is a dairy farmer with her husband in Colby. Their farm has a robot milking system. The couple has three children. Haas spent a year as Alice in Dairyland in Wisconsin.