Jackson Hole High School 2019 commencement ceremony

Teacher Jennifer Kelley, right, hugs students as they process into the gym during Jackson Hole High School’s 2019 commencement ceremony.

Jackson Hole High School math teacher Jennifer Kelley has received one of the highest honors in education, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

She was one of two recipients from Wyoming, the other being Aimee Kay from Thermopolis Middle School.

Kelley teaches algebra and calculus at the high school.

“This award inspires and encourages me to continue on my amazing journey as an educator,” she said in a press release from the Wyoming Department of Education.

The awards were initially announced in early August, but Teton County School District No. 1 hadn’t had a chance to celebrate publicly until Wednesday’s school board meeting, when Superintendent Gillian Chapman told the board about Kelley’s win.

“She is the first math teacher recipient in our school district,” Chapman said. “It’s a huge honor. ... We are so proud of Jennifer Kelley, and it’s a much-deserved honor.”

Teachers can apply for the award, or be nominated by colleagues. Awards are given to teachers in all 50 states and territories like Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. They must have at least five years of experience in which math, science or computer science has been part of their class load. The applications include both a narrative from the teacher and a video that allows them to demonstrate their pedagogical skills.

Winners receive a certificate signed by the president of the United States and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.

In normal times, they also are given a trip to Washington, D.C., for an awards ceremony and to hobnob with other winners. Though COVID has canceled most similar events, the National Science Foundation has not announced a date for the recognition events nor said they are canceled.

Even with the possibility of the trip to Washington, D.C. up in the air, the award is still a huge honor for Kelley.

“It recognizes my desire to provide the best opportunities for all students to advance their knowledge and excitement in mathematics,” she said in the press release. “I am fortunate to work with incredible students and colleagues who continue to motivate me to strive for excellence.”

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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