President awards alumnus high honor for teaching

Penn State alumnus Bruce Wellman, a 1991 graduate with a bachelor's degree in science, has been selected by President Barack Obama to receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The annual award, one of the nation's highest honors for teachers, is given to the best pre-college-level science and mathematics teachers from across the country.

Two winners from each state are selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians and educators following an initial selection process at the state level. Winners of the presidential honor receive a monetary award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to be used at their discretion.

A resident of Lawrence, Kan., Wellman teaches classes in aerospace and engineering chemistry at Olathe Northwest High School. The class covers traditional high-school chemistry with an additional emphasis on materials science, specifically metals and polymers. Wellman will be among 103 teachers from around the country who will receive their awards in Washington, D.C., later this year.

Wellman's career in education spans over 17 years. He previously taught at schools in Delaware and California, and from 1999 to 2004, Wellman was an international development worker in the Comoro Islands in East Africa. While there, he taught English at the French-speaking public school and also provided technical computer support and data analysis for the regional education office.

Wellman said he has learned the importance of exploring new technology and teaching methods and of being able to adopt such technologies in his own classroom. He added that he would like to see the establishment of a national cooperative of science and math educators dedicated to the creation and maintenance of assessment tools that provide better feedback to students and educators.

Wellman's advice for future educators is to emphasize collaboration as part of the profession. "My students have benefited greatly from the ideas and resources I have gleaned from countless colleagues across the country," Wellman said.
 

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Last Updated November 18, 2010