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East High's McDade named finalist for math teaching award

An East Henderson High School teacher has been selected as a state finalist for the prestigious 2021 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching.

Maggie McDade is one of three math teachers and six teachers overall tapped as finalists out of 145 North Carolina nominees for the national recognition, according to Joseph Reaper, awards coordinator with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Division of Academic Standards.

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science and Teaching is the highest award given by the United States government to kindergarten through 12th grade teachers, recognizing those educators who have both deep content knowledge of the subjects they teach and the ability to motivate and enable students to be successful in those areas.

“I am excited and honored to be a finalist,” McDade said. “Last [month] in Raleigh I met the winners from past years and they were an absolute inspiration for me. I love this job and I find it most rewarding when I am able to help students feel successful at something they previously struggled with in their studies.”

A National Board Certified Teacher, McDade is in her 18th year as an educator and her sixth year with Henderson County Public Schools. A native of Connecticut, McDade holds a master’s degree in education, and was a TeacherRanger at Acadia National Park in Maine.

At East, McDade teaches Foundations of Math; Math 1, and Math 4, and will be teaching AP Statistics for the first time this spring. A leader in her school community, McDade serves as the mathematics department head, and on the School Improvement Team at East.

“This honor is a testament to her commitment and expertise as an educator,” said East High assistant principal Maggie Gilliam, who nominated McDade for the award. “Her work to develop learning opportunities that support our students’ interests while incorporating science, technology, engineering, and math is the first step in giving them the tools to pursue and succeed in future STEM careers.”

McDade’s and other finalists’ applications will next be reviewed by a national committee of scientists, mathematicians, and educators who will recommend up to 108 teachers to receive the national PAEMST award. Awardees will represent all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Department of Defense Education Activity schools, and the U.S. territories.

Nominations and awards for the honor are facilitated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation. PAEMST was established by Congress in 1983. Henderson County educator Rachel Willingham was also a North Carolina finalist in 2007 and went on to be named a national awardee.

Teachers who are selected as national PAEMST awardees each receive a $10,000 award, a presidential citation, and a trip to Washington, D.C., to attend a series of recognition events, professional development activities, and an awards ceremony