England teacher named Presidential Award finalist for mathematics

Round Rock ISD teacher Deborah Swyers has been named a state finalist for the 2016 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). Swyers teaches third grade at England Elementary School.

Deborah Swyers

Deborah Swyers

After being nominated by Principal Jana Stowe, Swyers was asked to submit a video and written narrative sharing her approach to teaching math.  Swyers is one of five educators in the state to be named a finalist.

Swyers said she spends a lot of time reflecting on her teaching, in particular math. She credits her engagement with other educators via social media, her own pursuit of professional development and her participation as a cohort in the District’s Math Rocks professional development program as elevating her level of instruction.

“It’s validating to know all the research I’ve done to elevate my level of instruction has paid off and I’m really making a difference,” Swyers said.

The award, which is given to teachers from each of the 50 state and four U.S. jurisdictions, recognizes teachers who develop and implement a high-quality instructional program that is informed by content knowledge and enhances student learning, according to the National Science Foundation.

PAEMST winners receive $10,000, a certificate signed by the President of the United States and a fully funded trip for two to Washington, D.C. to attend recognition events and professional development opportunities.

“Mrs. Swyers routinely integrates mathematics with other content areas so that students have opportunities to see the beauty and relevance of mathematics in their daily lives,” Stowe said. “The joy is in watching her students engaged in their learning as a result.”
Sywers has been a teacher for 18 years, six of which have been with RRISD. She acknowledges the District for their continued efforts to encourage educators in becoming leaders in their field.

“I want my students to see math and as an engaging subject full of discovery,” Swyers said.  “We collaborate, talk about our mathematical thinking and justify our reasonings. The kids are making discoveries and connections on their own, presenting strategies I haven’t even thought of.”