Bradley Elementary School in Raleigh County has a hidden gem within its walls — Allison Shriver, commonly known as the mathematics wiz among her friends, colleagues, and students.
That gem is no longer hidden, after President Donald J. Trump announced Tuesday the recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) and the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM), of which Shriver received the highest regard.
The President named Shriver as a 2018 recipient of the mathematics portion of the PAEMST award, and after she was nominated in 2017, and carried on throughout the process in 2018, the nominations and awards were finally facilitated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation.
“Being recognized by the President of the United States is truly beyond my ability to describe. Only two awards for teachers are recognized by the President and only one is selected by the White House, which is this one,” Shriver told The Register-Herald. “I am so grateful that mathematics is being supported as significant in such a public way. I am so proud to be selected because my school and district are so special.”
This is the first time a teacher in Southern West Virginia has received recognition for the mathematics portion of the award, so being recognized within her home base is so very special, Shriver said. She hopes other teachers in West Virginia seek out recognitions and apply.
“I know so many wonderful and amazing educators who deserve recognition but also who could inspire others if they were not too humble to seek out a spotlight, it’s just not in our nature but it’s important,” she said.
The PAEMST represents the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government specifically for k-12 mathematics and science teaching, and Shriver is one of four other West Virginia educators who received the recognition among other recipients from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools, and schools in the United States territories of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Other educators from West Virginia included Erika Klose, West Virginia Department of Education Office of Middle and Secondary Learning assistant director and formerly of Winfield Middle School, Putnam County; Craig Mason, New Martinsville School, Wetzel County; and Jaime Pettit, Moundsville Middle School, Marshall County.
“West Virginia continues to pursue high-quality teaching that leads to exceptional student learning and achievement. These educators model effective and innovative instruction and I am honored they teach in our state,” West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steven L. Paine said. “They have dedicated themselves and their careers to the children of West Virginia, and because of them, hundreds of our children will be exposed to math and science instruction that is second to none.”
Shriver had been interested in science and inquiry discovery methods early on in her career, and has always been fortunate to teach at an elementary level for years which afforded her to teach all subjects, but five years ago she was asked to focus on just mathematics and science.
She has all the qualifications, and more, to be receiving this recognition. In 2012 she started to gain a more global perspective through a fellowship she gained through the Rural and Community Trust. From that point on, she’s been passionate about infusing real examples into my classroom instruction.
“Math is a part of the world we interact with it everyday, gone are the math problems about buying 27 watermelons and it’s important for mathematics to be rooted in real thinking,” Shriver explained. “In 2015 I was selected to attend a week long professional development at Glenville State that was funded by a grant. I learned there about inquiry mathematics and how to teach math skills using global and real world examples. I knew that was it!”
It was then that all her passions came together into a teaching style, years after she first stepped into a classroom as a teacher in 1998.
“I then learned everything I could about inquiry and global learning. I applied for fellowships, including one that sent me to South Africa last summer through the NEA Foundation, and a Concord University Inquiry grant that sent me to the National Math Festival in Washington D.C.,” she explained. “My journey to this point has been long and fueled by passion for making an impact for children by melding together mathematics, science, global awareness and the arts I am so pleased that this type of work is being supported by the White House the President and the National Science Foundation.”
Although Shriver loves mathematics, she loves learning more. She saw a need to teach mathematics and went with it, and believes learning mathematics could make a big difference in children’s lives. Although some find it scary, she knows it’s a subject where people think it’s OK to admit you are bad at it.
“So many people tell me they are ‘bad at math’ and it is simply not true. Most people who believe they are bad are really just not confident in math because they think it’s a subject of right and wrong not one if growth. My greatest desire is to change that mentality,” she said.
“Math is a beautiful piece of a whole intellect that needs to each build on one another. It is as much a part of history as it is science. I have made building a love for mathematics my passion for my students. I am in a classroom for kids not content, and I believe that this is where I can make the greatest positive impact, here in my home state of WV teaching math in one of the more challenging transitional years.”
Shriver will spend the next few days in Washington D.C. to celebrate her recognition among others who also received the award, with professional development activities, an awards dinner and celebration, and an alumni luncheon.
On Friday, she plans to meet the President of the United States.
— Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; follow on Twitter @jnelsonRH
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