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Mississippi Math, Science Teachers Earn National Recognition


For Immediate Release: May 24, 2021

JACKSON, Miss. – Six Mississippi teachers have been named 2021 state-level finalists for the 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).

Mississippi’s 2021 PAEMST state-level finalists:

Dr. Trisha Gilbreath 
Grade 10-12 Mathematics teacher 
Northwest Rankin High School, Rankin County School District

Jaqueline Lewis
Grade 9 Mathematics teacher; Grade 11-12 Computer Science teacher
Enterprise High School, Enterprise School District

Treasure Lynch
Grade 10 Mathematics teacher
Gulfport High School, Gulfport School District

Kenneth Peagler

Kenneth Peagler
High School Science teacher
Brandon High School, Rankin County School District

Christina (Tina) Walters

Christina (Tina) Walters
Grade 10-12 Science teacher
South Jones High School, Jones County School District

Ashley Elizabeth Webb

Ashley Elizabeth Webb
Grade 10-12 Science teacher
DeSoto Central High School, DeSoto County Schools

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

“Mississippi’s PAEMST state-level finalists are committed to excellence and are leaders among their colleagues,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “I congratulate them as they vie for the highest honor in their profession.”

Dr. Trisha Gilbreath, who teaches AP Calculus, Digital Electronics and Principles of Engineering, said, “I want my students to leave my classroom with three important lessons – they are loved, their ideas are valuable, and they can achieve far more than they ever expected.”

Jaqueline Lewis, who has 17 years of experience as a computer software design engineer and teaches Algebra 1, AP Computer Science A and AP Computer Science Principles, said, “While varying and evolving instructional strategies are important, they are all secondary to the need to motivate, inspire, and build a desire in students to want to learn and to excel in the implementation of what they have learned.”

Treasure Lynch, who teaches Honors Geometry/Algebra II, said, “True learning is determined by comprehension and application rather than memorization and demonstration.”

Kenneth Peagler, who teaches Physics, Physical Science, AP Physics and AP Computer Science, said, “Teaching is not about finding or creating the most rigorous and/or entertaining tasks; instead, it’s about using your content to build engaged students, that love to learn, that can take any task and will think, persevere, and exceed any goals set for them.”

Christina (Tina) Walters, who teaches Chemistry and AP Chemistry, said, “My goal is to create a safe learning environment where risk-taking is commonplace and problem-solving is encouraged in an effort to foster love of learning independent of ability level.

Ashley Elizabeth Webb, who teaches Physics, AP Physics 1, AP Physics 2 and PSAT, said, “All students deserve a welcoming, engaging, and challenging classroom culture that fits both their emotional and academic needs.”

The PAEMST program, established in 1983 by the White House, allows each state to select up to three state finalists in mathematics and up to three state finalists in science. One of the state finalists in each content area may 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.

The Mississippi State Board of Education will recognize Mississippi’s 2021 PAEMST finalists later this year. National winners are announced approximately a year after state-level finalists are identified.


Media Contact: 

Jean Cook, APR
Director of Public Relations