Enterprise teacher McKone receives Presidential Award

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It’s not every day an area teacher receives a national award, but that’s just what happened for Enterprise Attendance Center science teacher Kathy McKone.

     McKone was notified Monday that she is a recipient of the 2012 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science. She was one of 97 teachers nationwide who were announced as this year’s recipients.

     “I think I’m still in shock,” McKone said Tuesday. “The Presidential Award is the ultimate honor for teachers.”

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     The award recognizes teachers in every state, alternating between grades 7-12 and K-6 each year.

     Nominees for the award underwent a rigorous years-long process that included videoing a class and sending in written commentary about class objectives. McKone said she sent in a recording of her genetics class “conceptualizing molecular processes.”

     After completing the application process, McKone said she sent everything to the Mississippi Department of Education, which selected two science teachers and three math teachers to go on to the national level.

     “We were made aware of being a state finalist about a year ago,” she said. “We were recognized in February [for that].”

     But McKone said she didn’t find out she is being honored nationally until Monday when she received an email from the White House.

     “The president just released the names (Monday),” she said. “They were really private about it.”

     McKone will receive her award, along with a $10,000 prize from the National Science Foundation, during a three-day trip to Washington, D.C., at the end of the month. During the trip, she will attend educational events, as well as various ceremonies.     

     “It’s a big honor and hard to believe I’m going to Washington,” she said. “I’m going to get to meet a lot of influential leaders in education and get to share what I’m doing in my school.”

     McKone has been teaching for 25 years, including 23 at Enterprise Attendance Center. Along with genetics, she teaches physical science, chemistry and biomedical research.

     “It feels very surreal right now,” she said about being the winner. “Being selected for the Presidential Award is the highlight of my career.”