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Fayetteville, Fort Smith educators in running for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

by NWA Democrat-Gazette | September 16, 2021 at 12:04 p.m.
A fourth-grade elementary school student writes in math class in this Dec. 16, 2018, file photo. (AP/Rogelio V. Solis)

Teachers from Fayetteville and Fort Smith are among the 2021 state finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Marc Reif of Fayetteville High School and Jeffrey Rice of Southside High School are two of the state’s three science teacher finalists.

The program is coordinated by the National Science Foundation on behalf of the White House.

The program honors outstanding science, technology, engineering, and math teachers who have demonstrated a commitment to professional development, innovative teaching techniques, and technology use in their classrooms.

Arkansas’ six finalists were selected from 47 nominated teachers.

The math teacher finalists are:

• Jay Bly, DeWitt High School, DeWitt School District.

• Wes Davis, Cabot High School, Cabot School District.

• Diana Taylor, Rison High School, Cleveland County School District.

The science teacher finalists are:

• Patrycja Krakowiak, Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts in Hot Springs.

• Marc Reif, Fayetteville High School, Fayetteville School District.

• Jeffrey Rice, Southside High School, Fort Smith School District.

“These educators represent the best of the best in their fields, and because of their excellence in the classroom, their students will be prepared for the future,” Arkansas Education Secretary Johnny Key said.

A national committee of scientists, mathematicians and educators will review the applications and recommend up to 108 teachers to receive the presidential awards.

Winners are chosen from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. territories, and schools operated in the United States and overseas by the Department of Defense.

Teachers who are selected as national awardees each receive a $10,000 award, a presidential citation, and a trip to Washington, D.C., for a series of recognition events, professional development activities, and an awards ceremony.

The 2022 application cycle is now open and will close Jan. 7. More information is available at


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