Union’s Rebecka Peterson Named State Finalist for Presidential Award


Rebecka Peterson has been named one of six state-level finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) in the math category. Peterson has also been selected as a state finalist for the Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister made the announcement in November.

Peterson teaches pre-calculus and AP calculus at Union High School. She was Union District Teacher of the Year for 2021, as well as an AP Reader for calculus. She has 12 years of teaching experience.

“I believe in stories. Sitting with each of my students and learning their backgrounds allows me to understand where they’re coming from and what we have in common,” Peterson said. “When we learn stories, we hold a piece of each other. This mutual trust and respect allows learning to flow in a safe and understanding environment.”

Late last month, Peterson was named one of 12 finalists for Oklahoma’s next Teacher of the Year. Peterson was named Union’s District Teacher of the Year in January. The State Teacher of the Year will be announced in March 2022.

This year’s math finalists are Timothy Collier, McAlester Public Schools; Telannia Norfar, Oklahoma City Public Schools; and Rebecka Peterson, Union Public Schools. This year’s science finalists are Emily Harris, Stillwater Public Schools; David Powell, Norman Public Schools; and Laura Vaughn, Norman Public Schools.

“We commend these talented teachers who instill a sense of investigation and discovery in our students as they explore science and math at our middle and high schools,” Hofmeister said. “Their innovative approach to teaching critical thinking and essential problem-solving skills through hands-on lessons is preparing our students for an emerging workforce.”

Established in 1983, PAEMST is the highest recognition a K-12 mathematics or science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. Awards alternate each year between elementary and secondary teachers. This year’s honor recognizes secondary-level teachers.

The finalists were chosen by a local selection committee of teachers, district-level personnel, representatives from higher education and past awardees. Each finalist demonstrated a mastery of math or science instruction and effective use of student assessments to improve student learning. Up to two Oklahoma finalists could be named national recipients of the award.

The national recipients represent all 50 states and U.S. territories. Winners will receive a paid trip to Washington, D.C., to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities, a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation and a certificate signed by the President of the United States.

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