ARCHDALE – Trindale Elementary School teacher Sarah Remery is the recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
The fourth-grade teacher’s specialty has been math, and it was under that category that she was selected for this national distinction.
“Math can be a very scary thing,” Remery said. “I try to tell my students, ‘This is the year you’re going to be a math student.’”
Dr. Ana Floyd, the K-6 lead teacher for math and science in the Randolph County School System, recommended Remery for the Presidential Award.
“Her lessons are well planned and highly engaging for students,” Floyd wrote. “In developing lessons, she follows state and local curriculums for alignment and employs best practices. … She is creative as she plans her daily lessons and is willing to implement new ideas and a variety of instructional resources. This is evident when I visit her classroom during instructional walkthroughs.”
Floyd said she has observed Remery “seated in the middle of a group of students (on the carpet or at the back table), engaged in a rigorous mathematics discussion as they unpacked a challenging misconception.”
The award is the highest award K-12 teachers can receive for instruction in those two subjects by the federal government. Andi Webb, a K-2 teacher and instructional coach at Forest Hills Global Elementary School in New Hanover County, was selected for science instruction.
Math became Remery’s main interest in school. The idea of teaching was part of it.
“I actually was not a great math student at the beginning,” she said. “I had some really great teachers growing up.”
Remery said the idea is to have students embrace math. She said she understands that testing for math can be “its own beast,” adding it’s important for students not to be intimidated by math.
Remery, 32, is from Marietta, Ga. She graduated from Mercer University in 2012 as an elementary teaching major. A college friend from Archdale led her to North Carolina.
“There happened to be an opening and I followed some open doors,” she said.
First, there were four years as a teacher at Liberty Drive Elementary School in Thomasville. She’s now in her sixth year at Trindale.
“I still wanted to be able to teach fourth grade,” she said. “I thought this was my chance to do a little bit more with math.”
She was slotted as a math and science teacher for three years, but now teaches all subjects to a fourth-grade class of 29 students at the school in Archdale.
The award process stretched out, beginning in early 2020 prior to the pandemic. It included a video of a lesson presented to students. By December 2020, Remery was one of three state finalists on the math side.
Floyd said she appreciates the relationships that Remery has formed with students and colleagues, calling her an outstanding mentor. She said the teacher has taken part in numerous professional development opportunities.
She was involved in a math and science partnership grant from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction known as Tools for NC Teachers. That provided resources to help within RCSS as well as demonstrated a role in making a statewide impact, Floyd said.
When she learned she had won, Remery said she was humbled.
“It’s still a little surreal,” she said. “It has taken a regular week into a totally different direction. I have worked with so many good people and good teachers. I know there are so many good teachers out there.”
Normally, recipients attend a ceremony in Washington, D.C., but that’s on hold because of the pandemic. There will be a virtual recognition ceremony Feb. 24.
In 2017, Remery was named the Outstanding Elementary Math Teacher of the Year for both her school and the RCSS. The following year, she was selected as a finalist for the RCSS Teacher of the Year Award.
Catherine Truitt, North Carolina’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, said the selections from the state will help set the pace for teaching and learning in math and science in North Carolina.
“Today’s students need a strong command of math and science like never before,” Truitt said, “and Sarah Remery and Andi Webb are helping to lay a solid foundation for students in the elementary grades.”
President Joe Biden named 117 teachers, mentors and mentoring organizations as recipients of these awards.