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Mather Heights teacher a repeat finalist for prestigious national honor

A first-grade science teacher at Mather Heights Elementary School for the second time has been named a finalist for the nation’s highest recognition bestowed upon math and science teachers.
Andrew Kotko, a 12-year teaching veteran, is one of six outstanding elementary school teachers nominated for the 2014 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced his nominations Tuesday, July 22. 
Kotko, who also was a PAEMST finalist in 2012, teaches first grade at the Academy for Advanced Learning, located at Mather Heights. Kotko also earned National Board Certification in 2007. 
The National Science Foundation administers PAEMST on behalf of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Since the program’s inception, 86 California teachers have been named PAEMST recipients. 
Each PAEMST applicant must demonstrate a mastery of math or science, appropriate use of instructional methods and strategies, effective use of assessment strategies, lifelong learning, and leadership in education outside the classroom. Each candidate also was required to submit a 45-minute video lesson in support of their application. For his application lesson, Kotko chose the fundamental math concept of the “base-ten” place value system. 
Kotko is also vice chairman of the California Teacher Advisory Council and holds a bachelor of science degree in physics from California State University, Sacramento. 
“The subjects these outstanding educators teach so well are part of STEM education, an area that is critically important to the success of our students and our state,” Torlakson said. “From these early grades, and with such engaged and inspired instructors, we will be able to encourage more students to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”
Daniel Thigpen, Public Information Officer
(916) 294-9014