The Mississippi Board of Education recently honored the Mississippi teachers who are finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) Program. From left are, Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education, Susie Oglesby, Amanda Rogers, Virge Cornelius, Dorothy Thomas and Dr. John Kelly, chairman of the Board. Not pictured are teacher finalists Carl Lucas and Laura Zarandona
October 19, 2015
JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Board of Education recently recognized the 2014-15 state finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) Program. Five of the six finalists attended the Oct. 15 Board meeting for the recognition ceremony.
The 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. The Mississippi finalists are:
Virginia (Virge) Cornelius, a math teacher at Lafayette High School in the Lafayette County School District. She earned her undergraduate degree in Mathematics and art from Smith College, and she holds a Master of Education degree from Harvard University. She taught for 10 years in Massachusetts before moving to Oxford in 2000.
She teaches primarily Algebra I and advanced placement calculus. In addition, she has served as a reader, table leader, and question leader for the AP Calculus national exam. This year marks Cornelius's 26th year teaching. She has been designated as a STAR Teacher five times, and she was awarded the Siemens AP Excellence Award in 2009. Several of Cornelius's former students are high school math teachers. She teaches in the same department with two of them.
Cornelius also taught fellow PAEMST finalist, Laura Zarandona, a math teacher at the Mississippi School for Math and Science. She graduated from high school in Kenmore, Washington, before attending Rhodes College and earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics. While at Rhodes, Lauren ran a mentoring program and coached a Math Counts team at a local elementary school. Those experiences led her to the Mississippi Teacher Corps. She earned a Master of Arts degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Mississippi in 2005 while teaching in the Hollandale School District. She joined the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in 2008.
Zarandona taught another PAEMST finalist, Carl Lucas, an Algebra instructor and head basketball coach at Simmons High School in the Hollandale School District, where he attended high school. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics at Mississippi Valley State University, where he later returned to earn a Master of Education degree in teaching. Prior to teaching in the Hollandale School District, Lucas served as head basketball coach and as an Algebra I instructor at Leflore County High School in Itta Bena from 2009 to 2012.
Susanna (Susie) Oglesby, who teaches science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) classes at New Hope High School in Lowndes County School District, moved from Guatemala to Columbus, Miss., where she was raised by her grandparents. She graduated from Mississippi State University. With aspirations of being a Marine biologist, Oglesby took a biology lab workshop on the coast of Mississippi at the Dauphin Lab Research Center. There, she met two science teachers who had a passion for teaching students and who believed that it is up to the next generation to change the world. Being with these amazing teachers gave her an “a-ha” moment of understanding that changing students to care about the world would have an impact on our society.
Amanda Rogers teaches advanced geometry, advanced mathematics, and AP Calculus AB to 9th through 12th graders at Petal High School in the Petal School District. During her 12-year career as a secondary mathematics teacher, Rogers has taught courses ranging from 8th grade math to AP Calculus. Rogers earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from the University of Southern Mississippi and a Master of Education degree in secondary education from William Carey University. She is a National Board Certified teacher in adolescent and young adulthood mathematics, and she is also certified by the College Board to teach AP Calculus AB.
Rogers has been active in facilitating her district’s transition to the Mississippi College and Career Ready Standards. She strongly believes that her students should be able to compete not only with students from across the state, but also nationally. To provide students with that opportunity, she is currently working to build the advanced and AP course offerings and enrollment at her school.
Dorothy Thomas teaches Algebra 1 and foundations of Algebra at Pontotoc High School in Pontotoc City School District. She is committed to helping students reach higher levels of learning, and she believes that learning is a priority, a need, and a desire.
Thomas received a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Mississippi Valley State University. She later received a Master of Education degree in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in mathematics from the University of Mississippi. She received her education specialist in educational leadership from the University of Mississippi. Thomas is a National Board Certified Teacher of early adolescent mathematics. She is serving on the Standards Review Committee that will make recommendations to the Board on the state’s academic standards.
She is a member of the Mississippi Professional Educators, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
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Jean Cook, APR