MADISON (WKOW) -- Teachers have one of the most important and hardest jobs around, and our area has a lot of great ones. Two teachers from Wisconsin get the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching every year, and this time both are local.
Kathy Hiteman from Kromrey Middle School in Middleton and Cathy Fernan from Northside Intermediate in Milton received the honor. They joined Dani Maxwell on Wake Up Wisconsin to talk about what the award means to them and how they reach out to students.
"It's all about students and student learning, that's what they Presidential Award means to mean," Fernan said. "I am humbled to be given this honor when I know every day teachers in every school are going above and beyond to make sure their students are happy, cared for, and making meaningful academic progress."
Fernan has been in the classroom having fun with math and her students for 26 years. After a long stint teaching third grade, she graduated to teaching sixth. Cathy says for her, student learning always comes first. She strives to find the best practices in mathematics to make difficult concepts accessible, keep her students engaged and guide parents through the "new way" math is being taught.
In her free time, Cathy gets families involved with "Family Math Nights" in Milton. She has also served on the district's Math Curriculum Adoption Committee, field-tested the Bridges in Mathematics Grade 3 curriculum for the Math Learning Center, traveled to Japan through the Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program and been an item assessor for Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.
Kathy Hiteman has taught science for the past 23 years and is the other award winner.
"I feel extremely lucky to be a teacher," she says. "I am lucky that I get to work with young minds, that I get to help my students learn to love science, that I get to experience that light bulb moment when students suddenly understand a concept, that I get to laugh every single day with my students, that I get to see the results of perseverance, of hard work, dedication and learning."
Hiteman says she is lucky to be recognized for doing the work she loves and wishes all teachers could receive the same credit. She spent the last three years teaching sixth grade at Kromrey Middle and previously taught fifth and sixth grade at West Middleton Elementary and Glacier Creek Middle School.
One of Kathy's legacies is the annual camping trip that she initiated in her district. Sixth-graders in the district go to Upham Woods, an environmental education camp. Over the years, Hiteman has taken thousands of students and parents on this overnight outdoor trip. She has also spent a lot of time mentoring. Hiteman says she enjoys working with new teachers and has worked closely with more than a dozen student teachers.
Kathy has won numerous awards, including a Cooperating Teacher award from the University of Wisconsin, the Kohl Award for superior ability to inspire learning and the first Distinguished Educator award from her school district.
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