Image of Ms. Hungness smiling at work station

Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - 10:49am

Kromrey mathematics teacher Sonja Hungness has been named a 2020 state finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

"It is an honor to be a state finalist for the PAEMST,'' she said. "I want to thank my team and the math department at KMS, which has helped me continue to grow as an educator and provide the best possible inclusive experiences for all students and families that I serve."

Added Director of Communications Perry Hibner: "Sonja is an amazing teacher and has had a positive influence on students, staff and families in our District for more than 20 years. We are thrilled that she is a finalist for the PAEMST award, although regardless of whether she is selected or not, we know she sets a standard of excellence very few achieve.''

Hungness was also a finalist for the prestigious award in 2017.

"Ms. Hungness sent in an impressive application, highlighting an algebra tile lesson about area and perimeter with her students,'' said Julie Bormett of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. "The students were fully engaged in the deep and meaningful learning of the lesson, focused on both content and math practice standards. Sonja is a clear asset to the District.''

She is the fourth District teacher to be named a finalist since 2012. Kathy Hiteman, a sixth-grade science teacher at Kromrey, was one of 102 teachers to receive the award in 2012. Sauk Trail's Susan Hammer received the award in 2016, while Sauk Trail's Rebecca Saeman received the award in 2019.

The other state finalists are:

  • Marcia Gardner: Southern Bluffs Elementary, La Crosse
  • Mary Ellen Kanthack: Brookwood Middle School, Genoa City
  • Leigh Kohlmann: Rock River Intermediate School, Waupun
  • Lois Womack: Marvin Pratt Elementary School, Milwaukee

“Effective teachers not only have expertise in content areas and instructional practices; they also have a great deal of dedication and a special commitment to their students,” State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor said in a statement. “The teachers nominated for this honor have gone above and beyond to support their students and help them excel in learning.”

Established by Congress in 1983, the PAEMST program recognizes teachers who develop and implement a high-quality instructional program that is informed by content knowledge and enhances student learning. Since the program’s inception, nearly 5,000 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession.

Applications from Wisconsin’s five finalists will be judged at the national level by a committee organized by the National Science Foundation, which administers PAEMST on behalf of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The five Dimensions of Outstanding Teaching drive the evaluation process:

  • Mastery of mathematics or science content appropriate for the grade level taught.
  • Use of instructional methods and strategies that are appropriate for students in the class and that support student learning.
  • Effective use of student assessments to evaluate, monitor, and improve student learning.
  • Reflective practice and life-long learning to improve teaching and student learning.
  • Leadership in education outside the classroom.

The panel may select one teacher of mathematics and one of science to receive a Presidential Teaching Award from each state and four U.S. jurisdictions, with up to 108 awards given each year. In addition to recognition and professional development opportunities, award recipients receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation. Nominations for the 2021 awards, which will recognize kindergarten through sixth-grade educators, are now underway.