Three Tennessee Teachers Named 2022 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching

Friday, April 08, 2022 | 01:47pm


National Awards Recognize Top STEM Educators Across Country

Nashville, TN—Today, the Tennessee Department of Education announced that three Tennessee teachers have been named state finalists for the prestigious Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), the highest honor for K–12 science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teachers.

PAEMST recognizes awardees for their contributions to teaching and learning, along with their ability to help students make progress in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science and is administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. In addition to honoring individual achievement, the goal of the awards program is to showcase the highest standards of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teaching.

“Tennessee teachers continue to lead, and these three finalists have set a high bar for other educators in our state and nation,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “We thank these educators for recognizing the value of STEM learning and teaching and for their tireless commitment to excellence and innovation on behalf of their students.”

The 2022 Tennessee state finalists are:

  • Samantha Carroll, Mathematics, Union Heights Elementary, Hamblen County Schools
  • Neven Holland, Mathematics, Treadwell Elementary, Memphis-Shelby County Schools
  • Erin Nunley, Science, Overall Creek Elementary, Murfreesboro City Schools 

Each of the state finalists will now move on to the national selection committee, who will identify up to two teachers—one in mathematics and one in science—from each state. Teachers who are selected as PAEMST awardees receive a trip to Washington, D.C., where they attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities. They also receive a $10,000 award from NSF, a Presidential certificate, and join an elite cohort of award-winning teachers who can influence state and national STEM teaching.

“We are thrilled that Ms. Nunley has received this prestigious and well-deserved honor,” said Dr. Trey Duke, Director of Schools, Murfreesboro City Schools. “Her high standards, engaging instruction, and strong collaboration skills help ensure all her students have a firm foundation in science and are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow. Ms. Nunley exemplifies the best of education, and we are so proud of the work she does in our community.”

“I am proud to congratulate Samantha Carroll on being named a finalist for the nation’s highest award for STEM teachers,” said State Senator Steve Southerland. “What an honor it is for one of our own to be recognized nationally for her talent and dedication to educating our students. I appreciate her work and wish her the very best during the awards selection process.”

“I am very happy to honor Erin Nunley as a finalist for this prestigious award. She does an outstanding job educating and inspiring our next generation,” said State Senator Dawn White. “Overall Creek Elementary is lucky to have her.”

“I am so very proud of Ms. Carroll and congratulate her on being nominated for this very prestigious award.  I admire her dedication to her students and her community and I know she has inspired them to be the best and brightest of our state,” said State Representative Rick Eldridge. “She is an outstanding example of the quality of teachers we are fortunate to have in Hamblen County.  I wish her well as she continues to serve the children of our community.”

“It’s extremely exciting that a teacher from Treadwell has been named a finalist for such a prestigious and coveted award as the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching,” said State Representative G.A. Hardaway. “Mr. Holland is an inspiration to the students and fellow teachers at the school, the community and the state of Tennessee. He is an example of the exemplary teaching staff at the school; that staff is the reason the students at Treadwell consistently are high achievers and receive numerous accolades. Congratulations to Mr. Holland and all of the teachers, staff, parents and students at Treadwell.”

Established by Congress in 1983, the PAEMST program authorizes the President of the United States to bestow up to 108 awards each year. Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.

Principals, teachers, parents, students, or members of the general public may nominate exceptional mathematics and science (including computer science) teachers at Awards alternate each year between elementary and secondary teachers. In the 2021 award cycle, nominees are science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teachers working in grades 7-12.

All Tennessee finalists will also be recognized by the department at the Educators of Excellence Celebration in the fall.    

Learn more about the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST), including eligibility requirements and how to nominate a teacher, here. For more information about the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, or to make a nomination for an outstanding STEM educator, please visit the PAEMST website.

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact