Colorado Teacher Earns State Recognition, Advances for National

PEYTON, Colo. – A teacher in Falcon School District 49 recently earned recognition as an outstanding educator of mathematics in Colorado.

Melanie Dolifka, a second grade teacher at Falcon Elementary School, found out this week she is one of two mathematics finalists in Colorado for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

“This prestigious award recognizes your outstanding contributions as a teacher of mathematics in Colorado,” said Mary Pittman, Colorado Department of Education mathematics content specialist, in her letter to Dolifka.

“It was a total shock,” says Dolifka, who’s been teaching pre-kindergarten through eighth grade students for 18 years, had never won a similar award. She just started her eighth year at Falcon Elementary School.

“I said ‘you don’t know how much this means to me,’” said Dolifka, recalling her comments to the school’s principal, who handed her Pittman’s letter.

“Math isn’t everything to everyone, but this means the world to me… being honored in an area I’m so passionate about.”

Dolifka heard about her PAEMST nomination in April. In response, she compiled a packet, including a comprehensive essay, three recommendations, a video of her teaching math to first graders, a list of math-related professional development classes she’d provided other teachers, as well as school data and statistics.

PAEMST applications for seventh through twelfth grade teachers open this fall. Dolifka is encouraging community nominations for middle and high school teachers. Anyone can participate.

“We’ve got a lot of great teachers in our district,” she said. “They need to be honored, too.”

The U.S. president is authorized to present up to 108 awards each year through the PAEMST program, according to the official website at

Colorado Teacher Earns State Recognition, Advances for National

Colorado Teacher Earns State Recognition, Advances for National

More than 4,100 mathematics and science teachers have been recognized by the PAEMST program, which was established by Congress in 1983. They are currently selected from each state and four U.S. jurisdictions.

Recognition through the PAEMST is a highly respected national honor for educators of mathematics and science. Awardees serve as a source of inspiration for other teachers, as well as leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.

They also receive $10,000 and participate in various recognition ceremonies.

Dolifka’s nomination and packet were forwarded to Washington, D.C., for national review. Results are expected from the White House in early 2013.

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