Sue Darden Gets Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching
Idaho’s latest recipient of the PAEMST is longtime member Sue Darden, who teaches mathematics at the Galileo STEM Academy in Eagle. Sue was formally recognized at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. in June, and she also receives a $10,000 (before taxes) monetary award that she is using to update equipment and furnishings in her classroom. She is technically the 2016 honoree, even though the winners were just revealed this summer.
“It is a tremendous honor to receive the Presidential Award and it is a validation of the time and energy it takes to create rigorous and engaging activities that help students to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of mathematics,” says Darden. “Receiving this award was only possible because of the support of my wonderful family, amazing colleagues and supportive administration.”
Respect for Darden as a professional educator runs deep among her teaching colleagues, fellow IEA members, and the state’s education leaders. “Sue is a professional in every aspect; as an expert mathematics educator, she is continually refining her craft by seeking professional development opportunities and training her fellow educators,” says Nichole Hall, Mathematics Coordinator for the Idaho State Department of Education. “She participates in multiple state and national organizations, as well as serving on many state-level committees related to mathematics content and assessment.”
Darden Wants More IEA Members to Get Involved with PAEMST
Nominations will soon be open for the 2019 awards, and Darden encourages IEA members and others to participate. The nominating process is open to the public and is very simple. Just go the PAEMST website and enter the name and contact information of the teacher you want to nominate. The teacher will then be contacted, and the process moves forward from there. The awards rotate every other year between K-6 teachers and 7-12 teachers. Being an odd numbered year, 2019 awards are for teachers of 7th through 12th grades.
Once nominated, teachers interested in applying must put together a 45 minute video of themselves working with students in the classroom. Not a lecture, but examples of interaction with students. “The video should focus on the teacher as a facilitator or manager, and should highlight inquiry-based instruction,” says Darden.
The process of developing the video for PAEMST has multiple benefits above and beyond its necessity for the award, according to Darden. “You can catch a lot of little things you are doing, both positive and negative, that you might not think about or notice when you are in the moment working with a class of 30 kids,” she says. The PAEMST application process, including the video piece, also have a great deal in common with Idaho’s Master Educator Premium portfolios. (The IEA provides trainings around the state to help members put together their MEP portfolios-find one near you at https://idahoea.org/professional-development/).
The IEA Summer Institute is also a great way to get a head start on the Presidential awards. Part of the PAEMST rubric looks at professional organizations and leadership outside the classroom, and participation in Summer Institute, especially as a presenter, helps meet the criteria in that area.
An Educator Through and Through
Darden is an Idaho native who graduated from Orofino High School and obtained an education degree from the University of Idaho. She moved around the country quite a bit while her husband was in the military, and as a result, she is certified in five different states. Sue received her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Long Island University during her travels. She returned to Idaho in 1998 and has been working with students in our state ever since, first at Meridian Middle School and for the last 12 years at Galileo STEM Academy.
Dedication to the profession goes beyond the classroom for Darden, who recently served as an IEA representative on the Teacher Pipeline Workgroup put together by the State Board of Education. She is also on the Idaho board for the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics and Science. The IEA is in her blood too—Sue has been a very active member, serving on the Executive Board of the West Ada Education Association (formerly Meridian EA) for 11 years, including her current role as WAEA and Region 9 Vice President. She also served on the IEA Board of Directors from 2005-2012.
“Being a teacher provides me with great fulfillment,” says Darden. “And being recognized with the Presidential Award encourages me to keep learning and growing and to share my passion with my students and fellow educators.”