by Photo courtesy of the White House

A pair of teachers in San Diego County received the Presidential Awards for Excellence on Tuesday by the administration of President Joe Biden in the areas of Mathematics and Science Teaching or Mentoring. 

The two award recipients from California were Khamphet Pease, a math teacher from Wilson Middle School in San Diego, and Marlys Williamson, a science teacher from Wolf Canyon Elementary School in Chula Vista. Pease was selected as 2015 San Diego County Teacher of the Year, while Williamson was selected 2021 Chula Vista Elementary School District Teacher of the Year.

According to a statement from the White House, a total of 117 teachers were selected and awarded for dedication, hard work, and the role they play in supporting learners who will be future STEM professionals. 

"I am deeply appreciative of the inspiration that America's teachers and mentors provide every day to support the next generation of STEM professionals," Biden said. "The dedication these individuals and organizations have demonstrated to prepare students for careers in STEM fields, during what has been a difficult time for teachers, students and families, plays a huge role in American innovation and competitiveness.

"The work that teachers and mentors do ensures that our nation's children are able to unlock — for themselves and all of us — a world of possibilities," Biden added.

Established in 1983, the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching are the highest award that K-12 math and science teachers can receive from the U.S. government.

A panel of distinguished mathematicians, scientists, and educators at the state and national levels assess the applications before recommending nominees to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Nominees complete a rigorous application process that allows them to demonstrate deep content knowledge and their ability to adapt to a broad range of learners and teaching environments, according to the statement. Teachers are selected based on their distinction in the classroom and dedication to improving STEM education.

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