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Presidential Awards

Presidential Award
for Excellence in Mathematics
and Science Teaching


Congratulations to the Minnesota finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching for 2016:
Ann Vogel (District 833)
Janee Rivard-Johnson (Minneapolis)
Julie Ostlund (Osseo)


Congratulations to Morgan Fierst (South High School, Minneapolis), the Minnesota Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching recipient for 2015.

"The Presidential Award honors the professionalism and sacrifices of educators. This award honors the complexity of navigating the endless obstacles teachers face due to the daily and deep impact of education reform. To be an effective educator is to be superhuman. This award honors the sacrifices made by educators and their families. It validates the countless unpaid hours, energy, reflection, and commitment needed to engage in the relentless pursuit of achievement for all of our students."

Morgan Fierst is in her 8th year at South High where she teaches Advanced Algebra to grades 9–12 and Advanced Placement Statistics to juniors and seniors.

Morgan develops curious and engaged learners through work that asks students to notice and wonder. She is dedicated to building communities in which students understand how mathematics can help them investigate and engage in the social, economic, and political aspects of their world. Cultivating authentic relationships with every single student is her key strategy in developing mathematicians. Morgan is a leader in formulating a mathematics curriculum that connects her students to deep content in a culturally relevant context. Morgan is an advocate for social change and encourages students to use a critical lens at all times.

Morgan has presented at many conferences, educational fairs, and community events. This includes the national Summit for Courageous Conversations about Race, and both the Minnesota and Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics annual conferences. Morgan is a mentor and alumna of the Minneapolis Teachers Institute. She guides, supports, and inspires fellows to think creatively as they navigate obstacles faced by educators.

Morgan earned a B.A. in economics from the University of Chicago and is a candidate for a M.A.T. at Hamline University. She is certified in 5–12 mathematics.


Congratulations to Carissa Tobin (Nellie Stone Johnson School, Minneapolis), the Minnesota Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching recipient for 2014.

"Receiving this Presidential Award is a special honor and recognition of the importance of mathematics in primary education. I feel grateful to my many mentors, formal and informal, including family, friends, teachers, coworkers, administrators, my students, and their families. They have taught me the importance of humor, self-care, and taking time to quietly and intentionally reflect on my teaching methods. My students work hard every day to improve. ¡Es perseverancia!"

Carissa Tobin most recently taught first grade in the Spanish/English Transitional Dual Language Program at Nellie Stone Johnson Community School, where she was a teacher for nine years. Her current position is at Webster Elementary School, where she is a Spanish teacher.

Carissa enjoys looping with students from kindergarten to first grade, as she is doing this year, because it gives her the chance to form ongoing relationships with students and families. She works to build a classroom culture of intrinsic motivation, independence, problem-solving skills, perseverance, and a love of challenges.

Carissa collects and analyzes data to assess students’ abilities and reflect on her own teaching. She collaborates with the mathematics specialist at her school to organize and teach differentiated mathematics and intervention groups that meet all students’ needs. She has written mathematics curriculum and filmed her number sense routine lessons for use in her school district. In her role as Transitional Dual Language Team Lead, she works to make sure that the school’s bilingual program best serves its Spanish-speaking students.

Carissa holds a B.A. in Spanish from Carleton College and a M.A.T. from Hamline University. She is certified in kindergarten through sixth grade elementary and bilingual/bicultural education.