South Portland math teacher to receive national honor

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SOUTH PORTLAND — An elementary school teacher is a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in math and science teaching. 

James O. Kaler Elementary School math teacher Laura Stevens was one of 213 recipients of the award announced last week. Lauree Gott, a science teacher at Veazie Community School,north of Bangor, was the only other recipient in Maine. 

Stevens has taught in South Portland since 1999; she was at Small School before joining the Kaler staff in 2014. 

Kaler Principal Bonnie Hicks, formerly principal at Small School, transfered to Kaler at the same time as Stevens, whom she has known for many years. 

“She’s masterful at her craft,” Hicks said of Stevens Wednesday afternoon. 

“She is a brilliant and hardworking educator who understands the process of teaching, (who) understands the thought processes of children and can figure out how to best present information to kids so that they can achieve great stuff. Her kids excel,” she said. 

“She’s creme de la creme. We’re all extremely pleased and very proud to have her as a colleague,” Hicks said. 

Stevens holds a doctorate in personality and social psychology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and completed her education at the University of Southern Maine’s Extended Teacher Education Program.

She will receive her award at a formal ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 8. Recipients also receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation to use at their discretion.

In a press release, President Obama said “The recipients of this award are integral to ensuring our students are equipped with critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are vital to our nation’s success.” 

Superintendent of Schools Ken Kunin said the district is “proud that the accomplishments and expertise of this outstanding educator are being recognized at the national level.

“Teachers approach their critical jobs with energy, caring and intelligence,” Kunin said. “And it is gratifying to see this noted and rewarded.”

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA


South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.