A Carthage High School science teacher is among eight Missouri teachers selected as state finalists for the 2013 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

A Carthage High School science teacher is among eight Missouri teachers selected as state finalists for the 2013 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

Autumn Palmer, chemistry teacher at Carthage High School was named a state finalist for the award which puts her in the running for trip to Washington D.C. and a $10,000 award.

Palmer, a Carthage native and teacher here for the past 15 years, said she's honored to be considered for the award and represent the Carthage school district.

“I think all teachers can attest that sometimes education gets a bad rap and it's a profession where you don't get a lot of praise,” Palmer said. “It's been 15 years of hard work and doing what I love and it's nice to see someone took notice. It's an honor and I think we have a wonderful school district.”

Palmer said the Carthage school district is a great place to work and she really appreciates her fellow teachers and administrators for creating a good working environment.

“She's an outstanding teacher, the kids really relate to her,” said Carthage Superintendent Blaine Henningsen. “It's a big deal and it could be even a bigger deal if she wins the state award. We're thrilled for Autumn for being recognized. She's a great teacher and it's always fun to go into her classes and watch her work.”

Palmer said the annual murder mystery she holds in her classes, Mystery and Mayhem, is one of the big reasons she's a finalist for this award.

Every April, students in her class form the Carthage High School Bureau of Investigation and conduct a detailed probe to find the culprit in a fictional murder mystery.

Palmer said it's her way of making chemistry fun for students who might not be as enthralled by the subject as she is.
“I think I've always started with the fact that I know some students don't always want to be here,” Palmer said. “Not everyone thinks chemistry is the greatest subject and not everyone will get an A in my class. But it's a hard course and sometimes students crave a challenge. When successful, it motivates them to do well in other courses.”

The PAEMST is awarded annually to outstanding K-12 science and mathematics teachers from across the country. The winners are selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians and educators following the initial selection process done at the state level.

Each year, the award alternates between educators teaching kindergarten through sixth grades and those teaching seventh through 12th grades.

"Congratulations to these teachers who were chosen as state finalists for excellence in math and science education," said Missouri Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro. "Using innovative approaches along with technology for teaching math and science greatly enhances student learning in the classroom. Strategies such as these will help our state become one of the top 10 states in education by the year 2020."

The 2013 mathematics and science PAEMST awardees from each state and the dates for the recognition ceremonies will be announced at a later date.

Teachers who are selected as PAEMST awardees receive a certificate signed by President Barack Obama, a trip for two to Washington, D.C., to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation to use at their discretion.

The National Science Foundation administers PAEMST on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Other finalists
State finalists in mathematics are:
* Ruth Knop, high school mathematics teacher, Parkway West High School, Parkway C-2 School District, Chesterfield
* Melissa Livengood, high school mathematics teacher, Grain Valley High School, Grain Valley R-V School District
* Karen Smith, high school mathematics teacher, Truman High School, Independence 30 School District
* Lane Walker, high school mathematics teacher, Francis Howell High School, Francis Howell R-III School District, St. Charles
Other state finalists in science are:
* Kathleen Dwyer, high school science teacher, Maplewood-Richmond Heights High School, Maplewood-Richmond Heights School District, Maplewood
* Carol Robertson, high school science teacher, Fulton Senior High School, Fulton 58 School District
* Christy Straatmann, middle school science teacher, Valley Park Middle School, Valley Park School District