OSPI 2024 PAEMST Finalist Award for Renae SkarRenae Skar, fourth-grade teacher at Hockinson Heights Elementary School (HHES), is one of four state finalists for the 2024 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST.) The PAEMST is the highest recognition for kindergarten through 12th-grade mathematics and science teachers in the United States.

Skar began teaching in Washington in 2005. She has taught kindergarten through fifth-grade classes throughout her 19-year career in education. Skar has taught at HHES for seven years. She holds a Master of Arts in Education and a National Board Certificate as an early childhood generalist.

“Renae Skar is deserving of recognition for her superior work ethic, ability to design rigorous, engaging lessons, and her ability to inspire her students to think of themselves as student scientists who are fully capable of addressing real-world issues and making a positive mark in the world,” said Meredith Gannon, Principal at Hockinson Heights Elementary School.

“All my science units begin with a real-world problem or project,” said Skar. She is celebrated by colleagues, students, and school leadership alike for her hands-on, relevant approach to classroom teaching. “The salmon unit, in particular, stands out. My students are enthusiastic about hands-on activities, and this concept leaves a lasting impression. Throughout the year, they learn about and care for salmon, culminating in the release of these fish into their natural habitat. This meaningful, real-world experience not only creates lasting memories but also shows students how their actions can make a difference.”

Skar attended a Project Based Learning (PBL) training series through ESD 112 that had a great influence on her instructional approach.

“That not only gave me the tools and motivation to change my teaching but allowed me to meet a network of like-minded PBL educators who I still stay in contact with today” said Skar. “Without support from administrators and mentors, I would not be able to take the risks and learn from the experiences in the classroom.”

State finalists now advance to the national level for the PAEMST. Kim Newton (Spokane Public Schools), Jenna Samora (Bellingham Public Schools), and Jennie Warmouth (Edmonds School District) also represent the state of Washington at the national award level. National award recipients are typically announced by the President of the United States within a year of the state selection.

National winners receive a citation signed by the President of the United States, a paid trip for two to attend recognition and professional development events in Washington, D.C., and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.

Learn more on the Hockinson School District website, or visit the PAEMST website for more information.