By Keith Skenandore
Wisconsin educators are up for a national teaching award.
Those five finalists include Kevin Reese, a Seymour resident, a math teacher and advance placement calculus and statistics teacher at Clintonville High School.
He’s also an adjunct faculty member at UW-Oshkosh so his calculus and statistic courses count as credits toward for UW-Oshkosh credit while they are in high school.
Reese is up for one of the five Presidential Teaching Awards which will be announced by the White House.
The applicants from the Wisconsin’s five finalists will be judged at the national level by a committee organized by the National Science Foundation, which administers PAEMST on behalf of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
“It’s a very short window before they push that out publicly,” said Tom McCarthy, Wisconsin DPI Communications Director. “There is no prior date given of the announcement.”
State Superintendent Tony Evers said these teachers inspire a love of learning in their students.
“They engage our kids in the subtleties of science and the marvels of mathematics to bring these subjects into focus for today’s world and in shaping the future,” said Evers.
The panel may select one teacher of mathematics and one of science to receive a Presidential Teaching Award from each state and four U.S. jurisdictions, with up to 108 awards given each year. In addition to recognition and professional development opportunities, award recipients receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation.
Reese, a 1998 Shiocton High School graduate, found out on January 1, 2017, found out that he was nominated for the award from the DPI by his superintendent.
He didn’t hear until September 5 that he was a finalist.
“I kind of given up hope that I wasn’t going to be one (finalist),” he said. “It was a nice surprise the first day of school to get the news.”
Once Reese, 37, learned of his nomination, he had until May 1 to complete his application.
“I just thought that was it,” Reese said. “He nominated me, I received a certificate and I thought that was the end of the process. I didn’t know that there was more to it.”
A few weeks later he was contacted by the DPI giving him advice on selecting a mentor.
“I didn’t realize there was a process,” said Reese.
He submitted 45-minute consecutive recording of his class being taught.
“It wasn’t allowed to be a highlight reel,” Reese said. “It was 45 minutes of whatever happened, happened.
“The kids and lessons went so well I didn’t think I could top it so I went with our original take.”
After that he had to write six essays based off of his video then seek three letters of recommendation.
“It was a pretty exhausting process,” Reese said. “It took me several months to complete it.”
Five Dimensions of Outstanding Teaching drive the evaluation process: Mastery of mathematics or science content appropriate for the grade level taught; Use of instructional methods and strategies that are appropriate for students in the class and that support student learning; Effective use of student assessments to evaluate, monitor, and improve student learning.; Reflective practice and life-long learning to improve teaching and student learning; and Leadership in education outside the classroom.
Reese submitted his application, and it was rejected.
“There was a button to quit and I decided too many kids these days quit,” he said. “I decided I’m going to fill out this application know how matter how long it takes. It was a pretty long process.”
Reese decided to do the evaluation by himself.
“If I was going to win this award I wanted to be myself and let my own self shine through,” he said. “I was stubborn and just wanted to do it myself.”
He said the award means that he figured it out as he tried every day to get better and fine tune what he is doing.
“I felt I was an effective teacher. I felt I was a good teacher. To have a panel of experts watch my class being filmed and read my thoughts in my essays kind of confirms I’m actually doing it right,” Reese said. “I try to do what’s considered best practice for the profession.
“I guess I kind of figured it out but I’m not content.”
He said it’s a team award and it means a lot for the kids.
Reese was a math major from UW-Stevens Point with a bachelor’s degree. In 2009, he received his master’s degree from UW-River Falls.
He student taught in Clintonville and has been there ever since, starting his 16th year.
Kevin and Julie Reese have two daughters, Elsie, and Hattie.
Seymour resident and Clintonville High School teacher Kevin Reese instructs his math class for a video that was submitted for his nomination for the Presidential Award. – Photo courtesy of Nicholas Schaumberg
By Keith Skenandore