Perpich News

Lisa Swenson (Literary Arts 1996) receives the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Lisa Swenson (Literary Arts 1996) has received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Swenson teaches sixth grade science at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, Louisiana. The award is the nation’s highest honor for teachers of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) including Computer Science.

“Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to be a teacher. As I taught over the years, I gravitated towards teaching science, a subject that helps my students understand their place in the world around them. Receiving the Presidential Award means that my professional journey has brought a quality teaching experience to my students and school. This would not have been possible without all the excellent teachers and mentors I have had along the way,” said Swenson.

Lisa embraces her school’s motto of ‘learn to do by doing.’ She collaborates with the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation to help monitor the water quality at a local bayou. She incorporates service learning, design thinking, and environmental stewardship into this partnership as well as within her class. She instills the love of science in her students, encouraging a desire to make a positive difference.

“I never in a million years would have thought that I would become a science teacher when I was in high school – an English teacher perhaps, but not science. However, as I gravitated towards science in my teaching experience, I never lost the love of literature and writing. My experience at [Perpich] taught me to think outside the box and to see the beauty in the details of the world around me. This translates everyday into my classroom and life,” said Swenson.

Lisa has presented at numerous conferences, focusing on the National Boards process and other topics from her classroom. In 2018, Lisa was awarded the Louisiana Middle School Science Teacher of the Year. She was also named Outstanding Earth Science Teacher in 2015 by the National Earth Science Teachers Association.

Lisa earned a B.S. and an M.Ed. in elementary education specializing in middle school science from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, as well as an M.S. in geosciences from Mississippi State University. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and is certified in kindergarten through fifth grade elementary education and sixth through eighth grade science. She hails from Ely, MN.

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) are the highest honors bestowed by the United States government specifically for K-12 science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teaching. The Awards were established by Congress in 1983. The President may recognize up to 108 exemplary teachers each year.

Awards are given to science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teachers from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Department of Defense Education Activity schools, or the U.S. territories as a group (American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and U.S. Virgin Islands).

Teacher in class with students

Swenson in her classroom at Isidore Newman School. P.C.: Isidore Newman website

The award recognizes those teachers that have both deep content knowledge of the subjects they teach and the ability to motivate and enable students to be successful in those areas. Since the program’s inception, more than 4,800 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession.

Awardees reflect the expertise and dedication of the Nation’s teaching corps, and they demonstrate the positive impact of excellent teachers on student achievement. The National Science Foundation (NSF) administers PAEMST on behalf of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Each Presidential Awardee receives a certificate signed by the President of the United States and a $10,000 award from NSF. Awardees are honored at an award ceremony which takes place in Washington, D.C.