Teacher heading to Washington for award


President Barack Obama named 213 mathematics and science teachers recipients of the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, including Sashabaw Middle School math teacher Wendy Osterman, a grade 7-12 cohort recipient.
“I am extremely grateful to be selected for the Presidential Award of Excellence for Mathematics and Science Teaching.  I believe this award provides confirmation of the appreciation and respect for the tremendous amount of work and dedication of countless educators throughout the country.  It is an incredible honor to be chosen among so many amazing educators and validates my passion for education,” Osterman said.
Since the Aug. 22 announcement, she has received many kind emails from colleagues, former students and parents supporting her recognition.
“Hearing their stories has been extremely emotional and confirms all of my reasons for becoming a teacher,” she added. “I hope everyone who reads this article takes time to thank a former teacher so all teachers can feel like I have the last few days.”
The award is presented to outstanding K-12 science and mathematics teachers from across the country. Winners are selected by a panel of scientists, mathematicians, and educators following an initial selection process at the state level. Awards alternate between teachers in grades kindergarten through sixth, and those grades 7-12.
Osterman will head to Washington D.C. next week to accept the award on Sept. 8, as well as meet with other PAEMST winners from around the country, listen to keynote speakers, attend Professional Development, and tour the White House.
“This will be the first time I have traveled to DC,” she said. “Although I wish it was not during the first week of school, I am excited to go to DC to receive this award.  I look forward to sharing my experiences with my new students when I return.”
Osterman has 17 years of teaching experience. She has taught in the Clarkston district for 12 years, all at the middle school.  She has taught all levels of Seventh Grade Math, Seventh Grade  Math Support, Seventh and Eighth Grade Engineering, and Sixth Grade Technology classes. She currently teaches Advanced Seventh Grade math.
“I am a math department chair and coordinator for our school’s Professional Learning Communities and Culture of Thinking.  I have previous experience teaching grades 6-8 computer classes at Legg Middle School in Coldwater and math/computer classes at North Lake High School in St. Clair Shores,” she added. “In addition, I have written two mathematics workbooks, ‘Probability and Statistics’ and ‘Pre-Algebra.’”
Osterman said she has always been fascinated by mathematics.
“I have loved the beauty of the connections within mathematics as well as to the world outside math,” she said. “I like a challenge and mathematics never failed me with providing challenging opportunities.  It allows me to analyze, explore, and give reason every day.”
Teaching is a challenge, but it’s not a job to her. It’s her passion and not one she does for money, fame or even awards.
“Teaching has afforded me the opportunity to be a small part of the lives of thousands of students throughout the years. I try to teach them more than math,” Osterman said. “ I want each to develop a growth mindset, strong character, love of learning, and respect for the entire life-long learning process. Teaching mathematics allows me to passionately share my love for math.  I get to surround myself and my students in its beauty for hours every day. What could possibly be better than that?”
Osterman has lived in Clarkston for 16 years and is “blessed to have an amazing family.” Her husband of 23 years, Dave, and their three children support her passions and understand the sacrifices she makes. Her oldest two children attend the University of Michigan and her youngest is at the International Academy.
“Beyond teaching, I enjoy running, walking, shopping, and trying to disconnect from technology for thinking time,” she said. “The Big Bang Theory is my favorite television show.”
Clarkston Community Schools’ Superintendent Dr. Rod Rock also offered his support to Osterman for the award.
“Wendy has an amazingly positive influence on kids, teachers, and our community. She is a leader in Clarkston, building a Culture of Thinking, expecting excellence, and giving powerful feedback to kids on their learning. She has presented at the state level, including a visit from Michigan’s Superintendent of Public Education, Brian Whiston,” Rock said. “Beyond this, Wendy has affected children for the long term. I recently saw an email she received from a former student who shared how much her teaching meant to him, many years ago. He also shared stories of others who were in Wendy’s class with him. These students now attend or have graduated from colleges, including Yale, U of M, and Stanford. Her positive impressions on her students are profound.”

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