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SAISD’s Angelica Nino named a state finalist for a 2018 presidential award

Angelica NinoAngelica Nino, a third-grade bilingual math and science teacher at De Zavala Elementary School in San Antonio ISD, is one of six Texas teachers named as a state finalist for the 2018 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The announcement was made today by Commissioner of Education Mike Morath.

Nino is a state finalist in the category of elementary mathematics.

“Dedicated and highly skilled teachers like Angelica Nino help students to not only think critically and make sense of their ever-changing world, but also encourage them to be their best – both in the classroom and in life. This is a significant professional achievement,” said Superintendent Pedro Martinez, “and I am proud that she inspires the children in our District on a daily basis.”

This presidential award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government specifically for K-12 mathematics and science teaching. Established by Congress in 1983, the award recognizes those teachers who develop and implement a high-quality instructional program that is informed by content knowledge and enhances student learning. The National Science Foundation administers the award on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

"I am thrilled that Mrs. Nino is being recognized for her dedication to her students and for her skills in teaching mathematics,” said Donna Finch, principal of De Zavala Elementary School. “Her instructional delivery enhances the love for math, while stretching students' thinking. I am so proud to work alongside such a talented teacher!"

Finch wrote in her nomination letter that Nino ensures students are reached through all sensory modalities to reach the various ways they learn. Nino focuses on collaboration so that the children have high-level discussions about math. Students are asked thought-provoking mathematical questions to process, analyze and evaluate, and in the process, they are taught to successfully justify their answers.

"My philosophy is that all students can learn, they just learn in different ways and at different rates,” said Nino. “With a lot of differentiation and high expectations, students can shine and succeed, no matter where they are coming from.”

As a master teacher within the District, Nino works to improve the performance of students who may need extra time to grasp the content through intervention during class and through an extended day. She uses various methods to assess student learning and to monitor progress in an effort to help identify individual students’ strengths and weaknesses – and to drive her next-steps instruction. Data is carefully analyzed to determine whether the material was mastered, or if it requires a re-teach experience, a spiral activity, a small-group intervention, or a quick-fix reminder for the children. As a result, children thrive in her classroom.

Not only does she spend numerous hours working with students, Nino searches for ways to improve her teaching craft. In addition to various professional learning opportunities, she also is earning a master’s degree in bilingual education as a member of SAISD’s first cohort with Texas A&M-San Antonio.

These are the types of qualities that the state selection committee evaluated as they researched applicants.

State and national selection committees are composed of prominent mathematicians, scientists, math and science educators, district-level personnel, and classroom teachers. At the state level, up to three finalists from each award category (mathematics or science) are selected for recognition. At the national level, up to two finalists in mathematics or science from each state or jurisdiction is recommended to the National Science Foundation, who then submits the recommendations to the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Each of the Texas finalists will be honored at a State Board of Education meeting in early 2019. In addition, the math finalists, which includes Nino, will be recognized at the Conference for the Advancement of Mathematics Teaching in July 2019.

Presidential Awardees at the national level are typically announced and honored the following year. National recipients receive a certificate signed by the President, a trip 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.