One of Londonderry’s own was chosen to receive a Presidential Award for excellence in
math. Ann Gaffney, long-time Londonderry Middle School math teacher, has made her
school and town proud.
On Aug. 22, President Obama named 213 mathematics and science teachers as recipients
of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
“The recipients of this award are integral to ensuring our students are equipped with
critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are vital to our nation’s success,”
President Obama said. “As the United States continues to lead the way in the innovation
that is shaping our future, these excellent teachers are preparing students from all corners
of the country with the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills that help
keep us on the cutting-edge.”
Gaffney said, “I am honored to be a Presidential Award winner alongside other
preeminent teachers who contribute to the improvement of mathematics teaching in our
nation. To be recognized as one of those educational leaders allows my teaching to
impact a broader community. Together we can ensure that every student receives a
mathematics education that focuses on understanding mathematical ideas and concepts,
and applying those ideas to new situations; we can ensure that all students know and love
Gaffney received a certificate signed by the President of the United States, a trip to
Washington, D.C., to attend a series of recognition events and professional development
opportunities, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.
After her nomination, Gaffney had to complete an application that included a 45-minute
unedited video of a lesson; essay responses to questions about the lesson, her teaching,
reflective practice, and professional development; and recommendations from peers and
supervisors. After she was named a State Finalist, her name was sent to the National
Science Foundation and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where
final selections were made.”
Gaffney has taught sixth through eighth grade for the past 19 years at Londonderry
Middle School. During that time, she has taught mathematics, science, reading, and
enrichment programs; has developed curriculum; and has provided academic coaching to
other teachers. She currently works with the school’s highest achieving math students as
well as those students who need additional math support.
“I am passionate about teaching mathematics, and to be honored for my work in this area
is the most beautiful icing on the most delicious cake,” Gaffney said. “It is our nation’s
highest honor for a math teacher, and I am incredibly proud, grateful, and frankly a bit
overwhelmed by this award. To have my service to my students and profession
recognized by my country is an incredible honor.”
She thanked the National Science Foundation and White House Office of Science and
Technology Policy “for recognizing the hard and important work that math and science
teachers do every day and honoring quality work in this area.” She also thanked the
Londonderry School District for supporting her growth and development as a teacher
over the last 20 years; and thanked her students, “who are willing to take a journey with
me where we think deeply about mathematics, take risks, question each other, and
discover some really amazing things about mathematics – and about ourselves as well,”
“This award validates my efforts thus far and reminds me that all the hard work to come
will continue to make a difference,” she added.
Gaffney said students of all ability levels develop their understanding of math through
their experiences with mathematical ideas and problems. Student discourse is a key
component of her lessons, she said, noting she challenges her students to present their
ideas, critically investigate those ideas, and come up with generalizations based on their
She earned a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics, cum laude, from Wellesley College, a
Master’s degree in Education in elementary education from Lesley University, and a
doctorate in education in leadership and learning from Rivier University. Her research
focuses on the professional development of in-service teachers, particularly in the area of
math teaching and learning.
In addition to her elementary education teaching credential for kindergarten through
eighth grade, Gaffney is certified to teach earth/space science in grades 7–12 and holds
three mathematics-specific credentials, making her a mathematics content specialist for
Kindergarten through Grade 12.
Oh Happy Day
South Elementary School Principal Linda Boyd greets students as they get off their buses
and file into their classrooms on Monday morning for the first day of school.
Photo by Chris Paul