One of East Hampton's own could receive a presidential honor.
Chris Merkert, the head of the science department at the East Hampton Middle School, was nominated for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the highest recognition for a kindergarten through 12th grade teacher may receive.
Merkert said on Monday that he does plan on applying for the award, which is administered by the National Science Foundation on behalf of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Applications are due by May 1.
"I am extremely flattered, and will give it a shot!," Merkert said.
Eligible educators teach grades seventh through 12th in the 50 states or a US jurisdiction. Presidential Awardees receive a certificate signed by President Barack Obama, a trip to Washington, D.C., to attend ceremonial events and professional development opportunities, as well as a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation, according to a letter Merkert received.
It's been a big year for Merkert.
Just last May, Merkert took home the Science Teachers Association of New York Science Teacher of the Year Award for the Suffolk County region. He was honored, in part, because he reinvented his curriculum, through Flipped Teaching, which takes the lecturing component out of the classroom and onto short videos students watch from home over the Internet to allow for more hands-on instruction during class.
He was also 1 of 50 educators selected to attend the Google Teacher Academy 2012 in New York City, which took place in October.
Merkert said that the support and encouragement he receives has motivated him to work harder, "trying new approaches and leveraging some of the assest we have here so that they best fit the learning and learner." He continues to find appreciation for his students. "It parallels the old story how powerful positive encouragement and belief in a student is. The same goes for teachers, and all of us for that matter. After all, I meant it when I said just consider myself the 'Lead Learner.'
Recipients of the presidential award will join a network of educators, more than 4,200 teachers who have been recognized for their contributions since 1983. Over 100 teachers are being recognized this year.
The application consists of three components — administrative, narrative, and video, according to the program's website. They are evaluated using the following five Dimensions of Outstanding Teaching:
- Mastery of mathematics or science content appropriate for the grade level taught.
- Use of instructional methods and strategies that are appropriate for students in the class and that support student learning.
- Effective use of student assessments to evaluate, monitor, and improve student learning.
- Reflective practice and life-long learning to improve teaching and student learning.
- Leadership in education outside the classroom.