Presidential Awards for Excellence Finalists
Posted on 07/06/2023
Presidential Awards for Excellence Finalists

(Chattanooga, Tennessee) - Two Hamilton County Schools educators have been named finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST). 

Emily McDonald, Red Bank High School, has been recognized in mathematics, and Jessica Ghazi, The Howard School, has been recognized in science. The PAEMST award is the nation’s highest honor for U.S. K–12 science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teachers.  With only four Tennessee teachers being recognized as finalists, Hamilton County Schools is proud to have two teachers nominated from the district. 

Dr. Robertson stated: We want to thank Emily McDonald and Jessica Ghazi for being prime examples of our district's outstanding teachers. It is an honor to have two of our own excellent  HCS teachers be recognized for The residential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching.

Awardees are recognized for their contributions to teaching and learning, along with their ability to help students progress in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science (STEM). Administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the state finalists represent the most outstanding STEM teachers Tennessee has to offer and serve as both a model and an inspiration to students and fellow teachers.  

Dr. LeAndrea Ware, Executive Principal at the Howard School shared her congratulations to teacher Jessica Ghazi stating, “Mrs. Ghazi soars above and beyond every day as she exhibits extraordinary contributions to not only teaching and learning, but also a unique drive and determination to ensure that our students can thrive in life!”


Each state finalist will now move on to a national selection committee that will identify up to two teachers—one in mathematics and one in science—from each state. Teachers who are selected as PAEMST awardees receive a trip to Washington, D.C., where they attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities. 

Principal of Red Bank High School, Chris Tillet, also shared in his praise of teacher Emily McDonald, “She is constantly working, studying and finding ways to improve herself and her craft.  Ms. McDonald is very deserving of this recognition.”

Awardees also receive a $10,000 award from NSF, a Presidential certificate, and join an elite cohort of award-winning teachers who can influence state and national STEM teaching. Additionally, the state finalists will be recognized by the department at the Educators of Excellence Celebration in the fall. 

Jessica Ghazi stated, in regards to her being selected for the award, “Although this award is attributed to me, it is a direct result of administrative and community support in building the science department at The Howard School for the last decade. I share this and any teaching success I have with my colleagues and the inimitable Hustlin’ Tiger students I hold close to my heart.” Her appreciation is shared by Emily McDonald, who stated, “...I am very proud of the impact I have made on my students' lives at Red Bank High School, I am thankful for the relationships and collaborations I have with colleagues, and I remain dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in mathematics education with Hamilton County Schools. This nomination serves as a reminder that together, we can create a brighter future through the power of public education.”

Established by Congress in 1983, the PAEMST program authorizes the President of the United States to bestow up to 108 awards each year. Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education. 

For more information about the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching or to make a nomination for an outstanding STEM educator, please visit the PAEMST website.