A Londonderry Middle School math teacher earned the New Hampshire Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
Ann Gaffney, who was selected for her exemplary leadership abilities, professional growth and achievement, commitment to excellence in education, and for significantly improving students’ understanding in mathematics, will attend a Dec. 10 dinner in Concord honoring her and other award recipients throughout the state.
Additionally, Gaffney moves on with up to five other state finalists to compete at the federal level.
Gaffney, who has been teaching at the middle school since 1997, said she thinks her strength as a teacher is her ability to get her students to think about mathematics more conceptually.
“In order to perform well on tests, you need to have a schema to organize and classify information in your mind,” she said, explaining that there is some fun in doing something and getting the right answer, but as students think more about math concepts, they begin to see how interesting it is.
“They do think about it a lot outside the classroom,” said Gaffney, who earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership and Learning at Rivier College in Nashua.
Gaffney started her career at the middle school as a team teacher and is now in Special Curriculum, working with students of all ability levels, according to a press release from the middle school. Her expertise in working with high achieving students, as well as with students who need additional support, provides the middle school with flexible scheduling opportunities and varied grouping options.
Because she teaches both primary and secondary school classes, Gaffney said she plans to apply again this year for another shot at the federal award, funded by the National Science Foundation, which comes with a $10,000 prize and a chance to shake hands with the President.
Applications are extensive and must include a 45 minute, unedited video recording of the applicant teaching a class.
Gaffney said rather than recording herself giving a traditional lecture, she recorded a class in which she invites students to create their own ratios.
“It’s about helping kids create their own knowledge,” she said. “That’s the coolest thing about teaching, when they get it, and own it, and love it.”