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Two win Presidential award for math, science teaching

Two Delaware teachers have won Presidential honors for their excellence in mathematics and science teaching.

President Obama named Kristin Carmen of Sussex Technical High School and Christopher Havrilla of Woodbridge High School among the 108 recipients of the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Each award comes with a $10,000 prize.

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy congratulated the winners, who were selected by judges made up of leading scientists, mathematicians and educators.

“Great teaching leads to great learning. Kristin and Christopher’s students and colleagues have experienced this first-hand,” he said. “Both of these teachers are strong instructors in their classrooms as well as strong teacher leaders among their

Carmen, who earned a bachelor of science in accounting from Binghamton University and a master of arts in teaching from Wesley College, is a National Board Certified Teacher. She has taught for 14 years, the last 13 at Sussex Tech, where she currently teaches precalculus, calculus, and statistics, modeling and applications (SMA) classes. She provides extra help to students in weekly afterschool sessions and pioneered a recycling program that became a model for 10 other schools across the state.

A member of the Delaware Teacher Center Policy Board, Carmen also is involved in writing curriculum, developing in-service training and data collection and analysis. She has presented at the Southern Regional Education Board’s conference on incorporating skilled and technical sciences into mathematical pedagogy. As a career and technical student organization advisor, she also has coached Business Professionals of America students with a team placing sixth in the national Skills USA competition.

“The Presidential Award celebrates the journey of teachers through the thoughtful analysis and reflection of their pedagogy. It illuminates what is admirable in teaching and offers encouragement for continuing the pursuit of excellence in the classroom,” Carmen said.

Havrilla, who earned his bachelor of science in biology education from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, is Woodbridge High School’s science department chair and a member of the school’s team in the Delaware Department of Education-sponsored Common Ground for the Common Core. He also is a lead teacher in the DDOE-sponsored Next Generation Science Standards Teacher Leader program. An eight-year classroom veteran, he teaches 10th grade biology and Advanced Placement Psychology.

He teaches biology using the frameworks of sustainability and other global issues as the overarching theme to pull content together for his students. And he uses proficiency scales to identify strengths and weaknesses of each student, allowing for more personalized instruction.

Havrilla also enjoys teaching fellow educators. At the district level, he is a lead curriculum trainer, and he has conducted trainings at the state level. He also has helped developed the state test in biology.

“The award is recognition that each student in my classroom has the potential to affect the lives of individuals across the country. My instruction is helping my students reach their greatest potential, allowing them to be successful and contribute positively wherever they choose to live,” Havrilla said.

Alison May
alison.may@doe.k12.de.us
(302) 735-4000