Energetic, passionate DoDEA Pacific teacher becomes state-level finalist in Presidential awards program

Energetic, passionate DoDEA Pacific teacher becomes state-level finalist in Presidential awards program

by Lawrence Torres III
DoDEA Pacific

OKINAWA, Japan — Michael A. Pope, a Department of Defense Education Activity Japan District teacher, was selected as a state-level finalist in the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

Pope, an 8th grade science teacher at Zama American Middle School in Japan, was chosen by selection committees composed of prominent mathematicians, scientists, educators, and classroom teachers brought together by the National Science Foundation.

“I try to promote an environment that feels more like family and promotes mutual respect, fun and personal and group responsibility,” said Pope, who has a master’s in education. Pope also shared that he promotes “free thinking, challenges students to connect their learning, looking for the bigger picture globally, locally, and personally, and an environment that allows students to self-advocate.”

Pope was evaluated among all applicants through the Five Dimensions of Outstanding Teaching:

  • Mastery of mathematics or science content appropriate for the grade level taught.
  • Use of instructional methods and strategies that are appropriate for students in the class and that support student learning.
  • Effective use of student assessments to evaluate, monitor, and improve student learning.
  • Reflective practice and life-long learning to improve teaching and student learning.
  • Leadership in education outside the classroom.

Zama MS principal, Dr. Louis D’Angelo, said Pope treats his students like scientists and pushes them to achieve their best and take academic risks.

“Mr. Pope seamlessly blends his love for science with his love for teaching his students,” said Dr. D’Angelo. “He respects every student and demonstrates a passion for unlocking the highest level of scientific achievement possible for each of his students.”

Pope, a Stone Mountain, Ga. native, was also awarded the Georgia Middle School Teacher of Promise Award in 2001 and another award relating to his PAEMST selection – the 2001 Fulbright Memorial Teacher Fund Scholar.

“As a student, it has always been my dream to travel to Japan, especially following some post baccalaureate work in Applied Linguistics, developing curriculum for Japanese business personnel,” said Pope. “As a Fulbright Scholar, my cohort and I served as teacher ambassadors, toured the Japanese education system and various government facilities, and in a panel discussion with the Japanese Ministry of Education, discussed ways to improve the Japanese education system.

“The interesting part of that experience is that, in 2003, I returned to Japan as a DoDEA teacher only to find out that the proposal put forth was actually adopted and is still a part of the present Japanese education system.  Very rarely do you have the opportunity to facilitate any type of international change and then see it come to fruition.”

Pope’s state-level finalist application was sent to the National Science Foundation. The NSF brings a national selection committee together composed of prominent mathematicians, scientists, mathematics/science educators, district level personnel, and classroom teachers to review the applications of the state finalists. They recommend up to two finalists in mathematics or science (including computer science) from each state or jurisdiction. The director of the NSF then submits the recommendations to the director of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Final Presidential awardees are notified officially by the White House about a year following the application process in May.

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) are the nation's highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science (including computer science). Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.

Since 1983, more than 4,400 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession. If you know great teachers, nominate them to join this prestigious network of professionals.

Source: https://www.paemst.org/

About DoDEA Pacific:
The first organized schools for the children of U.S. military personnel serving in the Pacific were established in 1946 during post-World War II reconstruction. Throughout the decades, DoD schools evolved to become a comprehensive and high-performing K-12 school system solely dedicated to educating the children of America’s heroes. Today, DoDEA Pacific’s 48 schools serve more than 23,000 children of U.S. military and eligible DoD civilian personnel families stationed throughout the Pacific theater. The DoDEA Pacific teaching, administrative and school support team includes more than 3,100 full-time professionals. The schools are geographically organized into four districts: Guam, Japan, Okinawa and South Korea.

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