Woodbridge High's Kristie Donavan Named a Finalist for STEM Presidential Awards Program

Kristie Donavan

Woodbridge High School math teacher Kristie Donavan has been named a 2021 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching program (PAEMST) finalist.  Kristie is one of three California math teachers in the running for what is billed as the highest level of national recognition for science, technology, engineering and math educators.

Kristie, who has been teaching math courses for 13 years, has taught math II, enhanced math II and III, advanced placement calculus BC and math foundations.  She has worked as a teacher on special assignment, where she built relationships with secondary math teachers across IUSD and led District math teams in creating new math classes, implementing integrated math courses and re-examining high school grading practices. Kristie has also mentored teacher candidates and two early-career teachers.

Woodbridge High School Principal Chris Krebs said:

First and foremost, Kristie Donavan is an exceptional mathematics teacher who is beloved by her students.  She has a passion and desire to support student learning at a level found in very few educators.  Kristie builds relationships not because it is necessary, but because she values others and sees true worth in empathy.  Since 2007 she has taught all levels of mathematics including working with both advanced and at-risk students, effectively supporting a model that includes co-teaching with a special education teacher, as well as personally developing and teaching multiple strategic intervention programs.  It is not uncommon to see Kristie sitting with the most at-risk students on campus, committing fully to supporting them and making them believe in their inevitable success.  She’s an exemplar teacher, a wonderful colleague, and a mentor for new teachers in the field.  It goes without saying, we’re extremely proud to say she’s part of the Warrior Family. 

Enacted by Congress in 1983, the program is administered by the National Science Foundation on behalf of The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy to recognize teachers who have both deep content knowledge and the ability to motivate and engage students.

The president can present up to 108 awards each year, alternating annually between primary and secondary teachers. Since the program started, more than 5,000 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession.

“This has been a year full of significant challenges for students — personal, economic and social,” State Superintendent Tony Thurmond said. “The teachers recognized today are giving their students the tools to help them tackle difficulties, find creative solutions, ask questions and be the problem-solvers we need for the challenges of tomorrow.”

“These incredible educational mentors,” he said, “are driving preparation in math, technology, engineering and science, including computer science that connect students with the world around them and help them grow their skills to persevere in any endeavor.”

The California Department of Education partners with the California Mathematics Council and the California Association of Science Educators to select nominees for the PAEMST program.  Applicants must demonstrate subject mastery, appropriate use of instructional methods and strategies, evidence of lifelong learning and leadership in education outside the classroom. Each candidate is also required to submit a 30-minute video lesson in support of their application.

For more information, visit the CDE’s Presidential Awards for Math and Science Teaching webpage or paemst.org.