Margaret Howells Receives the 2016 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching

PAEMST winner

Margaret Howells

On June 25, 2018, the White House announced the most recent recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). This year’s teachers represent K-6th grade educators from across the United States.

The PAEMST winner for K-6 science education in West Virginia is Margaret Howells. She has been an educator for 30 years, teaching multiple subjects at the elementary and middle school levels. She is in her 10th year at Wheeling Country Day School, where she teaches all subjects for third grade and serves as the school’s Dean of Students. Margaret strives to infuse the multi-subject curriculum with scientific thought, inquiry, and a sense of curiosity. She is passionate beyond the constructs of the classroom and school calendar. During the summer, two weeks are spent at a nearby stream teaching “Creek Week.” She leads students in second through sixth grades in investigations involving stream health, water quality, geology, and biodiversity. Margaret is an instructor of preservice elementary teachers. She models the real life application of science methods and materials, has the student teachers develop lesson plans, and observes and instructs as they work with her third grade students. As an Orton Gillingham trained educator, Margaret tutors in mathematics and reading in the school’s Center for Multisensory Learning. She uses a variety of hands-on materials to build a student’s conceptual understanding from the concrete to the abstract. She earned B.A. degrees, cum laude, in elementary education and art education from West Liberty University. She holds professional teaching certificates in elementary education and in art education.

To learn more about the PAEMST recognition, visit  To learn about the 2016 PAEMST winners from West Virginia, visit these links Margaret Howells, K – 6 Science and Amanda Mehihan, K-6 Mathematics.  For information about nominating a West Virginia science teacher for the PAEMST award, visit The Award Process Overview or contact WV PAEMST Coordinator Dr. Deb Hemler at

State Finalists for the 2018 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching were honored at the West Virginia Science Teachers Association Conference

Jamie Petit
Jamie PetitMarshall County
Ms. Jamie Petit has 10-years teaching experience and is currently a 6th grade science teacher at Moundsville Middle School, in Marshall County. She has been efficient in planning, organizing, and modifying instruction to help her students succeed. Her curriculum and instruction have profound effects on the students in her science classes where they learn more by doing things rather than by just reading, watching, or hearing about it. As Ms. Pettit involves her students in a total learning experience, their ability to think critically is significantly enhanced. She teaches them to rely more on evidence (observed data), encourages them to think independently.
Cynthia Ann Strahin
Cynthia Ann StrahinPreston County
Cynthia Ann Strahin has 25-years teaching experience and is currently a 4th grade teacher who teaches Language Arts and science at West Preston School in Preston County. Her goals include helping students achieve their goals, become involved in their education, and learn through as many scientific inquiry labs as possible. Ms. Strahin is deeply committed to not only classroom projects but school science projects such as “Gardening with the Kids” and “Making Circuits”. She encourages students to self-select topics of interest and then develop their projects based on their research. She promotes collaboration in her classroom and fosters a true love of learning with her students.
Leslie Lively
Leslie LivelyWetzel County
Leslie Lively has 22-years teaching experience and currently teaches 4th grade Science, Social Studies, Math and Support for Personalized Learning at Short Line School in Wetzel County. He is an avid user of FOSS kits, embraces JASON (nonprofit for science learning), and has created true energy awareness in our local area through a myriad of activities and publications touting the importance of conservation. Mr. Lively incorporates the core premises of active investigation, recording of scientific observation and evidence, reading valid scientific resources, and assessment to monitor progress and motivate student reflection on learning. Mr. Lively has students thinking scientifically about the world, connecting with science role models, and accessing rigorous standards-based lessons.