Tomball ISD Teachers Named PAEMST Finalists

AUSTIN - For their commitment to quality education and community connection, Willow Wood Junior High School seventh grade math teacher Amy Edmondson and Tomball High School dual credit biology, anatomy and physiology teacher Markaela van Putten were two of six teachers in the State of Texas named PAEMST Award Finalists, announced by the Texas Education Agency.

The 2019 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) is the highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th grade science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States.

Both Tomball ISD teachers, Edmondson and van Putten, showcase high-level teaching with innovative thinking and for that, they are recognized among the elite in math and science.

Amy Edmondson has expanded her students’ learning by designing a "solution station" in her classroom, which has become a best practice used across the district to help students check their work independently while the teacher works with students in a small group.

“Amy Edmondson has a permanent smile on her face,” said WWJH Principal Bob Frost. “She is great with our students, faculty, and community and the ability to provide the very best instruction while creating positive relationships. She is an incredible educator that thinks about others before herself and we are very happy to have her educating students at Willow Wood Junior High.”

“Not only does she have great relationships with her students but utilizes a variety of teaching skills to make sure students succeed and love learning mathematics,” David Surdovel, Tomball ISD Director of Math said. 

Markaela van Putten uses real-world scenarios to help students not only see the “how” but the “why” behind the science.  Her students participate in discussions using the CER (Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning) method which ensures that students support their thinking with data and rationales to draw conclusions.

“Markaela van Putten is an outstanding educator at Tomball High School,” said THS Principal Chris Scott. “She is dedicated to her profession and to her students. She is meticulous with details and her structural quality is the best I’ve ever seen. She’s also a great team player who provides great support to her peers and instructional coaching for all of our staff. Kids love her, staff love her and she’s an outstanding representative from THS and Tomball ISD. We are super proud of her.”

“We are so excited that Markaela has been named a Texas finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching,” said Director of Science Jennifer Adams. “Her style of teaching allows her enthusiasm and love for science to not only impact the students during class, but teaches them to be lifelong learners.”

The 2019 Texas finalists in grades 7–12 mathematics are—

  • Amy Edmondson—Grade 7 mathematics teacher and cheer coach at Willow Wood Junior High School in the Tomball Independent School District,
  • Bridget Matamoros—Grades 11–12 AP Statistics teacher at John H. Guyer High School in the Denton Independent School District, and
  • Brent Voorhees—Precalculus teacher at Skyline High School in the Dallas Independent School District.

The 2019 Texas finalists in grades 7–12 science are—

  • Markaela van Putten—dual credit Biology and Human Anatomy and Physiology teacher at Tomball High School in the Tomball Independent School District,
  • Kay Fincher—AP Physics teacher at Amarillo High School in the Amarillo Independent School District,
  • Terry Snow—Grade 8 science teacher at Aledo Middle School in the Aledo Independent School District.

2019-2020 marks the second straight year Tomball ISD educators have been recognized by the State of Texas as PAEMST finalists. Allison Bearden (formally at OIS, now at TIS) was named a finalist a year ago.

PAEMST is considered the highest recognition a math or science teacher may receive for exemplary teaching in the United States. 

To achieve recognition through this program, a teacher first must apply to enter the competition or be nominated for the award. A state panel consisting of master teachers, content specialists, and administrators reviews the applications and selects the most outstanding mathematics and science teachers for the National Science Foundation to consider for national awardee status. 

After this initial selection process, a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators may select two teachers from each state and U.S. jurisdiction for the national award.

PAEMST awardees receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation, a certificate signed by the President of the United States, and a paid trip for two to Washington, D.C., to attend recognition events and professional development opportunities.

For additional information about the PAEMST program, visit

Tomball ISD educates students to become responsible, productive citizens by providing innovative, individually rigorous, and personally valuable educational experiences. Founded in 1908, Tomball ISD now encompasses 83 square miles in northwest Harris County and southwest Montgomery County, and is located approximately 30 miles from downtown Houston. The district currently educates over 18,000 students at 20 campuses.