This isn't a bad way for a teacher to start the school year: recognition from the president for your work.
Washington Middle School science teacher Colleen Windell is one of four Montana teachers to be honored with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
On Monday, President Barack Obama announced 213 math and science teachers nationwide as recipients of the award. They'll receive the awards at a ceremony Sept. 8 in Washington, D.C.
Montana's other awardees were Kara Nelson, fifth grade math teacher at Meadowlark Elementary in Bozeman; Jessica Anderson, science teacher at Powell County High in Deer Lodge; and Kerry Gruizenga, math teacher at Skyview High in Billings.
This is Windell's 30th year teaching in Montana. She got started here after earning her degree in elementary education from the University of Montana in 1986. In 1993, she got her master's in curriculum and instruction from UM.
For 24 years, she was at Lolo Middle School, mostly teaching sixth grade. Two years ago, she moved to seventh grade biology at Washington Middle School in Missoula.
In 2013, she earned her National Board certification in middle school science – the only woman in Montana at the time to have done so.
Deer Lodge's Anderson was named the 2016 Montana Teacher of the Year in May. She's been a teacher eight years, currently teaching ninth grade earth science and 11th and 12th grade chemistry and physics at Powell County High.
For 11 years, Nelson has taught math and other subjects in grades 3-5 – the past three years at Meadowlark Elementary teaching fifth grade. For two years, she's been a Master Teacher with the NEA Better Lessons Master Teacher Project, working on more than 200 Common Core-aligned lessons.
Gruizenga is teaching two algebra classes and AP statistics at Skyview High. She's taught math at Skyview for nine years. She has led math workshops, and published articles on math education in Montana. She encourages math and the arts in her students' education, coaching Skyview's speech team and helping the choral department.
The winners each receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation to be used at their discretion.
"The recipients of this award are integral to ensuring our students are equipped with critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are vital to our nation’s success,” Obama said in the announcement. “As the United States continues to lead the way in the innovation that is shaping our future, these excellent teachers are preparing students from all corners of the country with the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills that help keep us on the cutting edge.”