Cape Girardeau elementary school teachers Becky Hicks and Barb Egbert have been announced winners of the 2006 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the nation's top award for math and science teachers.
Hicks is a second-grade teacher at Blanchard Elementary School, and Egbert teaches kindergarten at Franklin Elementary School.
The National Science Foundation selects only two teachers from each state for the annual education awards. It's the first time both Missouri winners in a single year have come from the Cape Girardeau School District, school officials said.
"I think that is amazing," said Blanchard School principal Dr. Barbara Kohlfeld.
Franklin School principal Rhonda Dunham said, "I think it is unheard of."
Hicks and Egbert are only the third and fourth elementary school teachers in the district to win the award, school officials said.
Both teachers said Wednesday they were thrilled by the national honor. "I am on cloud nine," Egbert said.
Hicks said the award inspires her. "It is that validation that what you are doing is really important and it really counts for something," she said.
Each award winner will receive $10,000 and an all-expense paid week of celebratory activities in Washington, D.C., from May 14 through May 19. All of the winners will receive a citation signed by President Bush at a ceremony May 17.
Cape Girardeau schools superintendent Pat Fanger praised the teaching skills of Hicks and Egbert. "It speaks volumes for our district and the type of educators we have," she said.
As part of their nomination applications, Hicks and Egbert had to submit videos showing them teaching science or math.
Hicks is being honored for teaching science. Her video showed her teaching students about soil.
Hicks said she brought to class a sample of soil from her garden.
The students had to determine the components of the soil, such as grass, twigs, seeds and dead bugs. "They think the dead bugs are really cool," she said.
"When sorting through the soil, they usually find a few live bugs as well," said Hicks, who has been teaching for 16 years, mostly in the Cape Gir-ardeau school system.
As part of the class, students are given various components to make their own soil, she said.
Her students get a new appreciation of soil, she said. "Suddenly, this stuff we walk on all the time is really pretty cool," Hicks said.
Egbert is being honored for teaching math. Her video showed a lesson in geometry in which students used smaller blocks to construct larger, three-dimensional shapes.
Egbert has taught for 25 years, and this is her 21st year of teaching in Cape Girardeau public schools, she said.
Egbert said she told her kindergarten students about the award and that she'll be honored at a presidential ceremony. "I think it will be exciting," she said, adding that she's looking forward to both the award and the prize money.
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