MCPS Teacher Wins Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

July 6, 2015

James Schafer, a Montgomery Blair High School physics teacher, has been selected as a recipient of the 2015 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). He is among 108 winners from across the nation.

The PAEMST program, administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, recognizes outstanding K-12 teachers for their contributions to the teaching and learning of mathematics and science.

Schafer, the 2010-2011 Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Teacher of the Year, is one of two teachers in the state of Maryland to receive the national award this year. Winners were selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators following an initial selection process at the state level.

Schafer has taught physics at Montgomery Blair for 13 years. He currently teaches magnet freshman physics, advanced placement physics, and Quantum physics. He began his teaching career at Blair in 2002, where he taught multiple levels of physics, ranging from introductory 9th grade conceptual physics through advanced placement (AP) classes. Schafer has developed, modified, and updated curriculum for unique courses such as Thermodynamics and Quantum physics.

He also sponsors the school’s physics and quiz bowl teams and is a founding member and organizer of Puzzlepalooza, an annual puzzle competition. He encourages students to become engaged with STEM thorough his efforts with Final Frontiers, a competition focused on exploration and design related to space.

Each PAEMST awardee will receive a citation signed by President Obama and a $10,000 award from NSF. They are also invited to Washington, D.C., for an awards ceremony, and participate in educational and celebratory events, and visits with members of the Obama administration.

Since 1983, the PAEMST program has recognized more than 4,300 teachers for contributions in the classroom and to their profession. Awards are given to mathematics and science (including computer science) teachers from each of the 50 states and four U.S. jurisdictions. For more information on the PAEMST program, visit

Read the national release.

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