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CMS Math Teacher Honored with Presidential Award for Teaching

CMS Math Teacher Honored with Presidential Award for Teaching
Posted on 07/12/2018
O'Dell at Award Event

Kathy O’Dell has taught at Christiansburg Middle School for 11 years. Her students know her as an excellent math teacher. In July, she was recognized by the National Science Foundation with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching for K-6 Math. This award is the nation’s highest honor for math and science teachers.

O’Dell traveled to Washington, D.C. to receive the award. She also took part in the State-Federal STEM Summit, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. O’Dell, along with other Presidential Award winners, discussed the future of STEM education and the impact of STEM careers in the next five years. 

“I am honored to be chosen for this award,” said O’Dell. “As I worked with representatives from other states, I saw how lucky we are in Montgomery County to have a strong instructional vision and a focus on technology and STEM resources.” 

During the two-day awards event, O’Dell participated in a small-group tour of the White House and dinner at the Smithsonian. The Presidential Award for Teaching includes a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation. O’Dell plans to use the funds for higher education expenses for her and her daughter.

“Kathy is a teacher who is also a student — she is always eager to learn new and innovative ways to successfully teach math concepts to her students. As a result, she relates to her students at a deeper level and her teaching excels,” said Superintendent Mark Miear. 

O’Dell was nominated for the award in 2015 by Jonathan Schulz, then administrator of mathematics curriculum. To be considered, O’Dell submitted essays and video that demonstrated evidence of deep content knowledge and exemplary teaching that results in improved student learning. She learned she was a state finalist in 2016. She was notified that she was a Presidential Award winner when she arrived in Washington, DC for the awards events.

“I assumed that all finalists would attend the event and that the winners would be announced there,” said O’Dell. “It was a surprise and an honor to realize that I was the math teacher honoree from Virginia.” 

O’Dell received a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University in 1992. She worked in the field of childcare for 15 years and completed a career switcher program to receive her teaching credentials. She received her master's degree from Virginia Tech in 2017. 

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