Oakland Junior High science teacher wins presidential award

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 | 5:57 p.m. CDT; updated 8:31 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 9, 2010

COLUMBIA — A physics teacher at Oakland Junior High School was one of 103 recipients of a prestigious presidential award Monday.

Marsha Tyson is one of 103 mathematics and science teachers who won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. She was nominated in May 2009 and became Missouri's finalist in June 2009, Tyson said.

“This award is such an honor,” Tyson said. “The recognition is for my work and kids.” Although she won an award last year from the Science Teachers of Missouri, she said she doesn’t work for awards. 

According to a press release from the White House, the award is given out annually to the best precollege-level science and mathematics teachers in the nation. It alternates between elementary and secondary education each year; this year went to secondary education teachers.

Tyson said she is the first secondary science teacher in Columbia to receive the award. Without the support from her school, where she’s taught for 13 years, she said she wouldn’t have been able to win. The MU Science Education Department has also supported her, Tyson added.

Beginning in 1983, the award program aims to recognize teachers' contributions to students' learning of mathematics and science, according to the program’s website. Kim Presko, principal at Oakland Junior High, said Tyson “most definitely” deserves the award.

“Marsha is a teacher who will do whatever it takes her to make her kids succeed,” Presko said. “She has a high expectation in her kids, and she supports them so that they can be successful.”

Later this year, the 103 winners will receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation and an expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., the release said. The trip includes visits with members of Congress and science agency leaders.    

Tyson also received the Columbia Public Schools Junior High Teacher of the Year this year.

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