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Two Mississippi Science Teachers Earn Presidential Awards for Excellence


For Immediate Release: August 10, 2020

JACKSON, Miss. – Two Mississippi science teachers are among the nation’s best as awardees of the 2020 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). The PAEMST Program is the nation’s highest honor for teachers of mathematics and science (including computer science).

A panel of distinguished mathematicians, scientists, and educators at the state level evaluate all submitted portfolios before making nominations to the national selection committee. National level winners are then selected after a rigorous review process based on, but not limited to, evidence of their instructional practices, professional development outreach and impact, and dedication to improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education within their community and state.

The Mississippi awardees are:

Dr. Shani Bourn

Dr. Shani Bourn, 7-12 Science teacher, Hancock High School, Hancock County School District


LeShundra Young

LeShundra Young, 7-12. Science teacher, Germantown High School, Madison County School District

Bourn and Young serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of science education.

“It is wonderful to have such incredible teachers in our classrooms. To earn national distinction for their excellence in teaching is worthy of honor and I congratulate them on their awards,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education.

With more than 25 years as a teacher, Dr. Shani Bourn said her goal “is to provide all students with as many opportunities as possible for growth while fostering an appreciation and excitement for science.”

LeShundra Young, who has been an educator for a decade, teaches Biology, Chemistry and AP Biology. She said, “The art of teaching is to ignite the imagination, inspire creative expression, and instill a love of learning.”

The PAEMST program, established in 1983 by the White House, allows each state to select up to five state finalists in mathematics and up to five state finalists in science. One of the state finalists in each content area will be selected as the Presidential Awardee for the state, which is the highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th grade mathematics or science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States.

Awardees are selected from schools in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the United States territories which includes American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands.  Nominations and awards are facilitated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation.


Media Contact: 

Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications

Jean Cook, APR
Director of Public Relations