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6/25/12 - MSU grad student gets top U.S. honor for science teaching

A Mississippi State graduate student completing her degree by distance learning is receiving the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Anna Cole of Raceland, La., a master's degree major in interdisciplinary sciences, is among nearly 100 across the United States being honored with the highest recognition for teachers of mathematics and science. She also is receiving a $10,000 cash award.

Additionally, the award includes travel to Washington, D.C., where she and the other honorees will be recognized formally, participate in various professional development sessions and meet with government policymakers.

Certified to teach chemistry and biology, the veteran educator has more than two decades of classroom experience. She leads beginning and advanced chemistry classes, along with laboratory sections, at Central Lafourche High School.

Cole said she enrolled in MSU's interdisciplinary sciences graduate program to elevate her skills as a high school chemistry teacher in her hometown. She learned of the program through a colleague who successfully had completed the program with an emphasis is geosciences.

After learning that the distance graduate program was available for a focus on chemistry, Cole said she jumped at the opportunity. She expects to complete the master's program next year.

"I've been waiting for a long time for an online degree with emphasis on chemistry so that it can help me in my classroom," she noted. "It has taken my content to a completely different level."

During the coming school year, Cole also will teach advanced placement and dual enrollment sections. This will be the first year that A.P. classes are available at her school.

"This has helped me implement some of the higher level concepts that need to be instituted in those classes," she said.

Cole received her undergraduate degree from Nicholls State University in Thibodaux and was nominated for the Presidential Award by NSU chemistry professor Glenn Lo. As she explained, Lo did so because of his interactions with her former students, whom he found well prepared in the chemistry subject area.

In response to the nomination, Cole was required to answer a series of science education essay questions and provide proof of students' academic growth under her direction.

Allison Matthews | University Relations

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