Going to Washington; Former NH Teacher receives national teaching award

Greer Strine, Reporter

     From making lesson plans to winning awards, former North Harford science teacher Beth Brown won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST).  

     According to Brown, “this is the highest award offered to teachers of math and science in the country. It’s given by the White House.” Continuing her success today, she is now writing a curriculum for bazingabrown.com. 

     Brown didn’t know about the award initially, but with the help of Mr. Murrell, she was nominated. Her application for the award begun shortly thereafter. Beginning this process, she stated that she was required to film her teaching an 80-minute lesson. After she filmed, she had to critique her own teaching in another essay. 

     “The awards process took so long,” Brown stated. For two and a half years, she kept getting hints she won based off of some of the context within emails that were sent directly to her. Leading her blindly, she had to keep every little hint she received in secret. 

     “In the summer of 2016, I was announced a state finalist for Maryland while I was on vacation. This was really exciting! Then I waited and waited and didn’t hear anything. I returned to NH to teach for the 2017-2018 school year and still hadn’t heard anything,” Brown stated. She later received an email that requested a professional headshot and other information. From the email she received, she was sworn to secrecy and only allowed to tell her immediate family.

     Brown stated that in March of 2019, she received an email asking for permission to run an FBI background check. She added, “after that I didn’t hear anything until October when they invited me to the White House and Washington to ‘possibly’ accept my award!  I was given just days notice.”

     On the drive to DC, the White House press release came out relieving her from secrecy and let her know she had won the award. Once she arrived at the White House, “we received a signed certificate from the President at an awards ceremony at the department of the interior.  We also had a banquet at the Kennedy center.” 

     Although a dinner and a certificate were not all that she received, Brown stated “Of course, the White House tour…. Oh, and TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS.  I’m still waiting for them to mail out our ‘goodie bags’ with free things and a pin.” She added that they were taken to participate in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy meeting to discuss a new government STEM initiative. 

     “To be treated as an equal with politicians, etc. in Washington was nice for a change. The politics, budget cuts, layoffs, etc. in Harford County have really beaten up the teachers the last 10 years.  Be nice to your teachers.  Say thank you.  Many of them deserve to be recognized and rewarded like I was,” Brown stated. 

     Not only thankful for the rewards and perks she received alongside this award, Brown said “I could not have been there without the help of Ms. Harris, Mr. Murrell, Ms. Massetti, Ms. Jestel and Mr. Carr.  Teaching is a hard profession.  You take everything to heart.  Without their support and mentoring I never would have made it that far.”