California Teacher Advisory Council (CalTAC) Chair Andy Kotko, a first grade teacher at Mather Heights Elementary School, received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) on September 8 in Washington, D.C. He was one of four California recipients in 2016, and 213 recipients nationwide.
“The recipients of this award are integral to ensuring our students are equipped with critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are vital to our Nation’s success,” said President Obama. “These excellent teachers are preparing students from all corners of the country with the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills that help keep us on the cutting-edge.”
Kotko has been making waves in the California STEM education community for years. He studied Engineering and Physics at California State University Sacramento. He achieved National Board Certification in 2007 as an Early Childhood Generalist, and was twice previously selected as a California state finalist for the PAEMST. He is a vocal proponent of the Common Core Standards and serves as a presenter of professional development for teachers in the region. He has chaired CalTAC since 2014; he previously served as CalTAC vice chair.
“CalTAC’s mission is to amplify the voice of accomplished teachers in the development of California’s educational policy,” said Kotko. “It’s an honor to receive this award and to have the opportunity to highlight the importance of science and math teaching on a state and national platform.”
CalTAC is modeled after the National Teacher Advisory Council. Its members are recruited from among award-winning, accomplished teachers from the K-14 system in California. CalTAC members include numerous National Board Certified Teachers, as well as those with membership on State and national committees.
“We are all very proud of Andy’s tremendous accomplishment and commitment to teaching, which reflects the depth of his expertise and talent both in and out of the classroom,” said CCST Executive Director Susan Hackwood. “CCST is fortunate to be working with him in CalTAC, along with so many other excellent educators.”
The PAEMST is awarded to outstanding K-12 science and mathematics teachers from across the country. The winners are selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators following an initial selection process at the state level. Andy Kotko is the eighth member of CalTAC to receive the award.
“Our overarching goal is to strengthen California’s teacher workforce and to increase student success in STEM disciplines,” said Kotko. “I’m grateful for this recognition and look forward to helping raise the profile of California’s STEM teacher workforce over the coming year with CalTAC.”
M. Daniel DeCillis, PhD is the Spotlight editor and a Senior Research Associate at the California Council on Science and Technology.
The California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization established via the California State Assembly – making California’s policies stronger with science since 1988. CCST provides California’s Executive and Legislative Branches with independent scientific advice, convening a diverse network of expertise spanning California’s public and private universities, community colleges, and Federal research laboratories.