Pictured are (from left) Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Michael Kaufmann and Cora B. Marrett, National Science Foundation deputy director.

Teaching excellence

Two UD alums receive presidential honor for teaching excellence

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10:46 a.m., July 6, 2012--Two graduates of the University of Delaware College of Arts and Sciences' secondary teacher education program have been awarded Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the nation’s highest honor for math and science teachers. 

Michael Kaufmann, a science teacher at Concord High School with a bachelor's degree in biological science education from UD, and Mary Pinkston, a math teacher at Brandywine High School with a bachelor's degree in mathematics education and a master's degree in education from the University, were among the 97 nationwide teachers selected for this award. 

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“These teachers are the best of the best, and they stand as excellent examples of the kind of leadership we need in order to train the next generation of innovators and help this country get ahead,” said President Barack Obama, when he announced the awards in early June. 

Michael Kaufmann

Michael Kaufmann has taught science at Concord High for the past 13 years. He has taught a variety of subjects, including Advanced Placement biology, college preparatory biology and physical science. For the past five years, he has taught physical science and environmental science in Wesley College's evening program.

As chair of Concord High’s science department, Kaufmann supports 11 other science teachers by managing the operations of the department. He has become a valuable asset to the entire school as the building’s technology coordinator.

Kaufmann’s methods of teaching are rich in technology and highly engaging. He has developed his courses using various computer-based learning management systems, which allow his students to work at their own pace while receiving individualized instruction and feedback. He has also posted recorded classroom lectures, allowing students access to classroom content in the evening.

In addition to his bachelor's degree in biological science education from UD, Kaufmann has a master's degree in applied education technology from Wilmington University. He is certified as a teacher of biology and physical science for grades 9-12.

Mary Pinkston

Mary Pinkston has been an educator for more than 20 years in the Brandywine School District. She has taught at all three of the district’s high schools, including Mount Pleasant and Concord. For the past 18 years, she has taught mathematics at Brandywine High.

Pinkston teaches a richly diverse group of young people in grades 9–12. The courses she currently teaches are algebra, honors calculus and honors precalculus, and she co-teaches one section each of algebra and conceptual algebra.

While conducting weekly afterschool help sessions for her students, Pinkston is able to assess student misconceptions and intervene immediately. She communicates regularly with parents via email. She also works with colleagues in professional learning communities and numerous professional organizations. 

Pinkston has represented her students and colleagues at the state level since serving as the 2010 Delaware State Teacher of the Year. She was also chair of the 18th annual Teacher Forum (Global Competency), attended by several local and state officials.

She is certified as a secondary mathematics teacher and is a National Board Certified Teacher in adolescent and young adult education. 

About the award

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching are the nation's highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science. Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education. 

Since 1983, more than 4,100 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession. 

Article by Artika Rangan Casini

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