Oregon Trail Elementary’s Janet Wragge Receives Science Teaching Award

Oregon Trail Elementary School teacher Janet Wragge has received the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), with the National Science Foundation (NSF), announced in June that more than 140 individuals and organizations will be honored with presidential awards for their excellence in teaching or mentoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Awardees represent schools in all 50 U.S. states, Department of Defense Education Activity schools and schools in the U.S. territories American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Wragge is one of two Wyoming teachers to receive the honor this year (Aryn Tippetts, Lovell). She said about the honor, “Receiving the Presidential Award is such an incredible honor. It validates all the hard work I’ve put in over the years, but it isn’t just my work that is being recognized. The dedicated staff I get to work with every day creates the platform for me to do my best work. Because of that, I am able to create exciting, engaging, and powerful learning opportunities for my students. Through this award, I get to celebrate my fellow teachers’ support and encouragement and what it has done for me.”


During a visit to the nation’s capital, award recipients will each receive a presidential citation at an awards ceremony and participate in discussions on STEM and STEM education priorities led by OSTP and NSF. Recipients will also receive $10,000 from NSF, which manages the PAEMST and PAESMEM programs on behalf of the White House.

Janet Wragge has been teaching for 27 years in Natrona County School District. She has spent the last 23 years at Oregon Trail Elementary School teaching a variety of grade levels. She also served as Oregon Trail’s Instructional Facilitator for four years, assisting her fellow teachers. Janet taught third grade for the past two years, and is now teaching all subjects for fifth grade. Janet’s passion is creating outdoor educational opportunities for her school. As the Instructional Facilitator, she created a program called Burn and Learn to help teachers implement place-based learning. Since then, she has created multiple outdoor classroom spaces and has acquired a greenhouse for her school. She and her students start the day outside exploring and learning in the outdoor spaces near her school. Janet and her students think it is the best part of the day.

Janet has presented sessions on using Burn and Learn to implement place-based learning and inquiry science at state and national conferences. She has also done presentations on how to combine science with history. She is currently writing units for Agriculture in the Classroom’s Wyoming Stewardship Project that will be used throughout the state of Wyoming. Janet earned a B.A. in elementary education from the University of Wyoming and a M.A. in teaching from Grand Canyon University. She is certified in elementary education.


About the PAEMST

Established in 1983, PAEMST is the highest award kindergarten through 12th grade mathematics and science (including computer science) teachers can receive from the U.S. government. The award alternates years between kindergarten through sixth grade and seventh-12th grade teachers. This year, on the award’s 35th anniversary, kindergarten through sixth grade teachers will be honored.

Nominees complete a rigorous application process that requires them to demonstrate their excellence in content knowledge and ability to adapt to a broad range of learners and teaching environments.

A panel of distinguished mathematicians, scientists and educators at the state and national levels assess the applications before recommending nominees to OSTP. Teachers are selected based on their distinction in the classroom and dedication to improving STEM education.


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