Science teacher state-level finalist for presidential award

Fisher's Landing Elementary School teacher says everyone can think like a scientist

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter

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An Evergreen district educator who believes that every person can think like a scientist is a state-level finalist for a presidential teaching award.

Kimberley Astle, a fifth-grade science teacher at Fisher’s Landing Elementary School, is among Washington’s six finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

The finalists — two math teachers and four science teachers — were selected this summer by a statewide committee of award-winning teachers and experts in the subject areas.

In her nomination letter, Fisher’s Landing Principal Judi DeRochers wrote that Astle “believes everyone can think, explore, and question like a scientist!”

Her students wind up loving the subject, DeRochers said.

“I intentionally place certain students in Mrs. Astle’s fifth-grade classroom each year, for this specific reason: Students become ‘scientists,’ and they thrive in such an environment for learning,” the Fisher’s Landing principal wrote.

It’s not only children who benefit from Astle’s approach to teaching. During a recent two-hour training session for the school’s faculty, DeRochers wrote, “all teachers and staff members, including myself, were highly involved in the science tasks, research and experiences Kimberley provided.”

Earlier this month, Battle Ground teacher Meredith Gannon was announced as a winner in the science category of a previous round of awards. Gannon, an instructional coach at Tukes Valley Primary School, was nominated for her work at the Vancouver school district’s Sacajawea Elementary. The honor included a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation, which administers the program on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology.

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is the highest honor for a K-12 mathematics or science teacher. Awards are given annually to teachers from each of the 50 states as well as several other jurisdictions and territories.