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Three V.I. Teachers Nominated for National Honors

Dec. 22, 2005 – Three V.I. teachers — Kate Baker, Mary Jane Coles and Merlene Jones — were nominated for the 2005 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science, the nation's highest honor for math and science teachers of grades kindergarten through 12.
"They are highly qualified in their fields, deeply knowledgeable about their subjects and equipped with the methods and strategies that improve teaching and learning in science and mathematics," Celeste Pea said.
Pea is the program director of elementary, secondary and informal education programs at the National Science Foundation.
The awards program, established by the U.S. Congress in 1983, is administered by the National Science Foundation for the White House.
Each state may select up to three mathematics and three science teachers as state finalists. According to the organization's Web site, V.I. teachers are grouped with those from American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas.
Nationwide, there are 253 state finalists. Up to 108 teachers can win. The prizes include $10,000 and a trip to Washington, D.C.
The winners will be announced in March at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Baker is a science teacher at St. Croix Country Day School. She said in a press release received Thursday that she sees her work as providing scaffolding for her students. She said she works gently to remove her support until they can accomplish their work on their own.
"My students describe my teaching style as lively, humorous, focused, and intense," she said.
Coles is a science teacher at Good Hope School on St. Croix. She said she tries to maintain a balance between being an entertainer and a catalyst for interactions among her students.
"I often ask questions I don't know the answer to, and we work through the solutions together," she said.
Jones is a mathematics teacher at Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School on St. Thomas. Jones said that her teaching style is a combination of guided discovery and cooperative learning.
"Through guided discovery, students are encouraged to discover new ideas and investigate concepts on their own," she said.
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