A Starkville High School teacher has been nominated for the highest honor an American math or science teacher can receive.
Physics and computer science teacher Dane Peagler is one of four teachers in Mississippi to be named a state finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, a national award for math and science teachers. Peagler has been in the classroom for seven years, five of which have been at SHS. Prior to teaching at SHS, he taught in the Jackson area. He was also named the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Teacher of the Year for 2018-2019.
“I was honored to be in such a good group of teachers who got it in the past, and who are up for it this year,” Peagler said.
Peagler said he was nominated to apply by SOCSD science lead teacher Brenda Jackson. “It was started in the 80s, and it’s the highest honor a math or science teacher can attain,” Peagler said. “You have to take a 30-minute video of yourself teaching, answer several questions that they give you, and then send your application off.”
The Mississippi Department of Education then rates the applications and names up to four finalists each in math and science. Of those teachers, four total semifinalists are narrowed down by the U.S. Department of Education.
“They pick the one science and one math winner for the state,” Peagler said.
He said his favorite aspect of being a teacher was being able to engage with the students, not only teaching lessons about his subject matter, but about life.
“Caring for the kids is first, and I really love physics and math,” Peagler said. “I guess that helps me persevere whenever you get to the middle of March, when it feels like the ends of the school year is so far away, and just love each one of the topics and know how they apply in everyday life, just try to show the kids all those connections that I see as someone whose studied physics in college.”
The three other Mississippi finalists are Hancock High School science teacher Shani Bourn, Pass Christian High School math teacher Paige Cobb and Germantown High School science teacher LeShundra Young.
For more on this story, read Monday's Starkville Daily News.