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October 14, 2003

Teaching Math Equals National Recognition

Kelly Wamser and Lynne Haeffele Curry

Springfield, IL - For Kelly Wamser, choosing a career was no problem. She knew she wanted to teach and since math was her passion it was easy as 1, 2, 3.

Now in her ninth year as a math teacher at O’Fallon Township High School, Wamser has never wavered in her commitment to helping students learn. She has completed her Master’s Degree and created numerous programs designed to foster learning.

Kelly WamserHer efforts were well rewarded on Tuesday when she was presented with the Milken National Educator Award. Wamser is one of two Illinois teachers receiving the prestigious award which is given annually to teachers demonstrating exemplary teaching skills and personal commitment to education. Each winner receives $25,000 from Milken Family Foundation, which they can use for any purpose.

Wamser is described by her colleagues as a teacher who recognizes and understands the different learning needs of students. She uses techniques that engage her students and make the subject come to life for them. By designing lessons that incorporate a variety of ways to apply the mathematical skills they have learned, students are able to see how math principles play a role in many daily activities and careers.

In addition, Wamser works closely with her colleagues and parents to continuously improve her own teaching and learning. She has also visited Japan as an ambassador for education to exchange ideas and teaching strategies with educators in that country.

Wamser’s boundless enthusiasm and positive attitude have earned her the respect of students, colleagues, parents, and administrators throughout the district. She is credited with improved assessment scores in mathematics.

A motivated educator, Wamser never stops looking for ways to help students. She authors grants, researches successful strategies and implements techniques that she believes will ultimately achieve her goal—helping all students learn.

Illinois’ other Milken recipient is Carolyn Baider, a special education teacher at Walter R. Sundling Junior High School in Palatine.

This year, 100 teachers in 47 states and the District of Columbia will receive Milken awards. To date, the Milken Family Foundation has honored almost 2,000 teachers, distributing more than $47 million in awards.

Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777