EWU alumna and Eastern Washington native, Justine Hurley ’06, recently received one of the nation’s most prestigious teaching honors—the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
The PAEMST award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government specifically for K-12 science, technology, engineering, mathematics and/or computer science teaching. According to the organization’s website, it recognizes teachers 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. The president may recognize up to 108 teachers each year, and each receives a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.
“Being a Presidential Award recipient is an incredible honor,” says Hurley. “This award is a tribute to all who have supported me in my career: my family, friends, community, and all my students. My students have made me the teacher that I am and I’m so grateful for all of them.”
Hurley received the award in October. The award selection committee credited her passion for creating a classroom culture that is constantly evolving, engaging and hands-on. They said she uses a cross-disciplinary science instruction model that makes science relevant in everything the students are learning.
Before earning her bachelor’s in elementary education from EWU, Hurley grew up in the small farming community of Farmington, Washington and graduated from Oakesdale High School. Now a third-grade teacher in White Sulphur Springs, Montana, Hurley says she is happy to be a teaching in a small community that reminds her of home.
“This award ignites my goal of motivating and engaging other rural elementary teachers in quality science education,” she says. “It is extremely rewarding to be recognized for something I truly enjoy, and about which I am so passionate.”