Albany – SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher
today congratulated a SUNY faculty member and two alumni who were recently
honored by President Barack Obama as part of his second “Educate
to Innovate” campaign event, which celebrates achievement and excellence in
Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) education.
and mentoring by SUNY faculty and alumni has an immeasurable positive impact on
students of all ages in New York State and across the country,” said Chancellor
Zimpher. “I am most pleased that President Obama has recognized the talent of
three individuals who have truly made a difference in the lives of their
students and in their schools and local communities. SUNY is honored and proud
to have them on our campuses.”
L. Elwess, a Professor in the Department of
Biological Sciences at SUNY
Plattsburgh received the Presidential Award for Excellence
in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM), which is awarded each
year to individuals or organizations, recognizes the crucial role that
mentoring plays in the academic and personal development of students studying
science or engineering and who belong to minorities that are underrepresented
in those fields. Candidates for the Presidential mentoring award are nominated
by colleagues, administrators, and students from their home institutions.
The mentoring can involve students at any grade level from elementary through
graduate school. For a complete list of recipients as well as biographies and
Dr. Elwess has
dedicated 13 years to mentoring. During her tenure, Dr. Elwess has developed a
reputation for her dedication to helping undergraduate students conduct
advanced DNA research. Nearly 100 of her students have given presentations at
national and international conferences, and many have brought home top honors.
Many of Dr. Elwess' students have also gone on to pursue higher degrees in
science, technology, engineering or mathematics after being accepted into such
schools as Yale University and the University of Oregon. Dr. Elwess’ program
involves organizing her students to return to the high schools from which they
graduated to discuss the benefits of attending college and the thrill of
working in science. Her efforts have significantly increased the number of
applications from local schools to SUNY Plattsburgh and changed the student
demographics of the Department of Biological Sciences.
alumni were also honored. Suzanne Pilon and James Brown received
the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching
(PAEMST), which is awarded annually to outstanding pre-college-level
science and math teachers from across the country. The winners are selected by
a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators following an
initial selection process done at the state level. Each year the award
alternates, going either to science and math teachers in grades K through 6 (as
it is this year) or to those teaching in grades 7 through 12. For a complete list of
recipients as well as biographies and photos, click here.
alumnus of SUNY Brockport, teaches a first and second grade inclusion
class at Quest Elementary School, an International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary
Years Program. She teaches science and mathematics, in addition to other
subjects. She also teaches six IB planners (four- to six-week plans) on
multidisciplinary global themes. She has been in her current position in the Hilton Central School District for the past 14 years.
Pilon's professional service contributions include Teacher Leader for the
Investigating Science program, Child Study Team Grade Level Leader, Technology
Committee Representative, Administrative Team member, and
Parent-Teacher-Student Organization Team Representative. Ms. Pilon is known as
an exceptional educator with a special ability to motivate children. She uses
inquiry to engage students in science lessons. She draws on resources ranging
from technological materials to the environment to encourage students to
explore and generate ideas and questions. She expands her students' personal
and intellectual development through such activities as creek walks; remote
camera observation of a nesting falcon; visits to a birds-of-prey migration
site; and nurturing fish, reptiles, and insects in ecosystems that she creates
in the classroom.
alumnus of SUNY Plattsburgh, has been a sixth grade teacher in the South Colonie School District for the past 13 years. Previously, he taught kindergarten,
fourth grade, and sixth grade in the Cohoes City School District. Mr. Brown
executes inquiry-based lessons that actively engage students to build on their
curiosity and expand their minds. He designs creative activities that challenge
his students to compete and cooperate with each other through contests,
simulations, and real-life activities. Mr. Brown has the ability to communicate
and interact with students and adults in a way that motivates them to learn
with the same high level of energy and enthusiasm that he expects of himself.
His willingness to work with students outside the classroom has won him the
respect of students, colleagues, and parents. As a mathematics teacher, Mr.
Brown has been a strong proponent of aligning the school district's curriculum
with state and national standards. In addition to working with staff to
accomplish this, he helped create a "text companion" for teachers to
use, which has been especially beneficial for newer teachers.
President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden attended the president’s event, which
was held Wednesday, January 6. For more information about these awards, please
visit the White
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