Christopher Piasecki, eighth-grade math teacher at Fairhaven Middle School, is one of five Washington teachers who were selected as state-level finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). This is the highest honor bestowed on teachers in STEM and computer science in Washington. The finalists were selected over the summer by a statewide selection committee comprised of content-area experts and award-winning teachers. Of the five finalists, up to two per state will be recommended by the National Science Foundation to move forward to be nationally recognized.
Piasecki has been teaching at Fairhaven Middle School for two years. Piasecki said as a student he loved the sense of accomplishment that came from working on challenging math problems, making connections between concepts and understanding why mathematical ideas work the way they do. He tries to create this same experience for students in his classroom.
“I love when students have those ‘aha’ moments and see how concepts are connected or finally understand the reasoning behind the mathematical concepts they are working with,” Piasecki said. “I also love the pride and sense of accomplishment students have when they persevere and work through challenging problems.”
Piasecki said his advice for other teachers is to find someone with a shared vision and goal for their classrooms and collaborate with them.
“Talk about what is going well, trade good ideas and use them, try new things, co-plan lessons, observe each other’s classes, and support each other during and outside of class,” Piasecki said. “It’s really nice if that person is in your building and teaches the same grade level, but don’t feel limited to those people. People from other grade levels or buildings can be great collaborators as well!”
Piasecki was recently interviewed by OSPI about being a finalist. You can view the full interview here: PAEMST Spotlight: Christopher Piasecki, NBCT