Math Teacher is Top Finalist for National Award
In a classroom surrounded by nine students and additional educational aides, Jennifer Amos works through different levels of math, making sure each student is engaged and processing the questions she’s asking them.
“Math is my passion, stick me in a math class and I’m happy,” says Amos, a special education and math teacher at Mesa Middle School.
Jen has been at Mesa Middle School since 1998 and teaches five different math classes throughout the day - two smaller self-contained classes followed by three larger math classes. Each class has its own unique personality and needs.
“Jen does an amazing job. She truly cares about her kids and donates everything possible to support them inside and outside of the classroom. In addition, she also is a big part of our special education team. They are amazingly collaborative. With Jen’s background and knowledge in math, special ed and law, it really allows her to lead that group and provide the very best she can for each and every kid,” says Tony Jackowski, principal at Mesa Middle School.
Jen is currently one of two state finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, or PAEMST. The award is the nation's highest honor for outstanding teaching in mathematics or science.
“I was nominated at the beginning of last year by a parent. Then I had to write essays, submit a video to the state. Then, the state goes through everything and determines who would qualify. It all was submitted last spring and I found out in August that I was a finalist. It was really exciting and such an honor,” says Amos.
“She just has this special teacher aura about her. She has a great personality. She just really knows her stuff. She knows the curriculum and she really knows and understands the kids and their abilities and then caters to them," says Cristin Cockrell, an education assistant at Mesa Middle School.
Jen uses games, various projects, and other creative ways to keep kids engaged and focused on math. According to the education assistants, Jen is dynamic and has different activities planned each day for her students. Tuesdays are deemed tournament days and kids spend their math class learning through games.
“My favorite part of my job is, no question, the kids. I love working with our kids. I love seeing the lightbulb or the 'aha' moment or see them get excited about something. Especially the kids in my self-contained classes who struggle the most. These kids have typically struggled with math, they don’t get it and are easily frustrated by it, so working with them in small groups and seeing those lightbulb moments when they get excited and want to learn, that is so rewarding to me.”
**Jennifer Amos with her daughter at the awards ceremony