Garland County will be represented for the second cycle in a row of the nation's top teachers in mathematics and science for grades 7-12.
Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts' computer science specialist Daniel Moix has been named a recipient of the 2015 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Moix was a member of the fourth graduating class at ASMSA.
"As a computer science teacher, I am really excited that my selection was announced during a time that computer science education is in the press in Arkansas and is timely nationally," Moix said.
President Barack Obama announced 213 teachers as recipients of the 2014 and 2015 awards. It is the highest recognition for teachers of mathematics and sciences for kindergarten through the 12th grade.
As many as 108 teachers are recognized each year to represent all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Territories and the Department of Defense Education Activity schools. Winners are selected by a panel of scientists, mathematicians and educators after finalists advance through an initial selection process at the state level.
Awardees will travel to D.C. next month for an awards dinner. Their trip will include a tour of the White House, a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities, and a potential opportunity to meet the president.
"The recipients of this award are integral to ensuring our students are equipped with critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are vital to our nation's success," Obama said.
"As the United States continues to lead the way in the innovation that is shaping our future, these excellent teachers are preparing students from all corners of the country with the science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills that help keep us on the cutting edge."
The awardees receive a certificate signed by the president and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation, which sponsors the program. They also join an active network of more than 4,600 educators who have been recognized since 1983 for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession. Awardees are meant to serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.
Moix was one of eight finalists for the two 2015 awards for Arkansas. Five of the finalists are math teachers and the other three teach science.
This year's awards mark the first time the program allowed computer science teachers to enter the competition. They were given the choice of whether to compete in math or science. Moix said he chose math because his application focused more on the subject.
"This award is special to me because it is not just recognizing me as an individual teacher, but this is the first year that computer science teachers are allowed to enter the contest," Moix said.
"Computer science teachers, we are traditionally not seen at the same level as other disciplines. We are either stuck in the back of the math class or pushed inside of a business classroom, but to have national recognition for computer science at this level is just fantastic."
The state's other award winner for 2015 is Diedre Young, a science teacher at Ridgway Christian High School in Pine Bluff. She was one of 12 national finalists for People Magazine's Teacher of the Year award in 2013.
The award program alternates every year for teachers in grades K-6 and 7-12. All teachers to receive 2015 awards teach grades 7-12.
Teachers chosen for the 2014 awards teach grades K-6. Both of the state's 2014 recipients, Ashley Kasnicka and Cassie Kautzer, teach in Springdale. Kasnicka teaches at Harvey Jones Elementary School and Kautzer is a science teacher at Hellstern Middle School.
Lake Hamilton High School math teacher Brian Leonard was announced in the summer of 2015 as a recipient of a 2013 award. Leonard and the other 2013 recipients were recognized in D.C. last summer before the 2015-16 school year.
ASMSA computer science instructor Carl Frank nominated Moix during the 2014-15 school year when Moix taught Mobile Application Development at Bryant High School. Moix was hired by ASMSA the following summer.
Moix went to school in Conway before he graduated from ASMSA. He earned a bachelor's degree from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia before earning a master's from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.
"ASMSA is like my home," Moix said. "I went to school here. I got my teaching career started here. I was nominated by Carl, who works here, and I am glad to be here doing what I am doing. ASMSA is the most supportive school of computer science in the state of Arkansas and we are doing the most exciting things."
Marcia Lanier, library media specialist at Bryant, helped Moix complete his application. She previously worked with educators who applied to become National Board Certified Teachers.
They found the PAEMST application process was similar. Moix has planned for Lanier to accompany him to D.C. in appreciation of her assistance.
Moix was the high school grade level lead writer for the Computer Science Teachers Association 2016 K-12 Computer Science Standards, an author of the Framework for K-12 Computer Science Education and contributor to many Arkansas computer science standards. He leads several ASMSA programs designed to prepare Arkansas teachers for state and federal initiatives in computer science and coding.
"Right now, there is an incredible influx of interest and acceptance for computer science education," Moix said. "Now, more than ever, is the time for computer science to be recognized on the same level of mathematics and science by the National Science Foundation.
"This award not only recognizes excellence in a given discipline, but focuses on the commitment to ensure that all children have access to the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in the 21st century. It fulfills the promises expressed by the president's 'Computer Science for All' message. By selecting a computer science teacher, you are encouraging all computer science teachers across the U.S. and are supporting them in opening new doors and opportunities for their students."Local on 08/24/2016