CHS teacher Carol McKay wins national award

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CHS teacher Carol McKay wins national award
Carol McKay working in her classroom with studentsCapital High School math teacher Carol McKay has been recognized nationally with the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

McKay is one of only two award winners statewide selected from a field of five finalists named last fall. She represents Washington state as the math award winner, while a Lynwood middle school teacher is the science honoree. Nationwide, there are 107 winners honored this year.

The veteran educator is also the second Olympia School District teacher to win the national honor in the past five years. Reeves Middle School teacher Jana Dean received the award in the 2016-17 school year.

"It has always been my goal to help all students have opportunities to be successful mathematicians and to learn to love mathematics as I do,” McKay said. “The Presidential Award is an incredible honor. It recognizes the challenging yet rewarding work I do alongside my talented colleagues, with the support of district leadership. This award reinvigorates my desire for ongoing professional growth and teacher leader opportunities. I am thankful for the support and encouragement of my family in this profession.”

Carol McKay headshot

The Olympia School Board will honor McKay at its next regular meeting on Monday, August 24. The virtual meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom, and the recognition will take place near the start of the meeting. Zoom meeting links will be posted on the district website the Friday before the board meeting.

The PAEMST organization describes the annual honor as the “highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th-grade science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States.”

A committee of STEM experts and award-winning teachers selected five Washington state finalists last summer based on content mastery, use of effective instructional methods, effective use of assessments, reflective practice, life-long learning and leadership in education inside and outside the classroom.

Olympia School District, but specifically Capital High School, is lucky to have Carol serving our community,” said Capital High School Principal Curtis Cleveringa. “Carol's work speaks for itself! The impact that she has had and will continue to have is irreplaceable. It is an honor to lead alongside her."

Capital High School Assistant Principal Michelle Anderson, who nominated McKay for the PAEMST honor, added, "In all my years, it is rare to have the pleasure to work with a teacher who takes the time to check in with every single student, every single day. It might be related to the math concepts, but it might be related to an activity the student participated in the day before or just to check in with how the student is doing. This action is done in a very intentional way with thought behind every word spoken. Because of the atmosphere intentionally created, consistently, students share how much they feel valued in her classroom and in turn feel comfortable asking questions without fear."

McKay is a National Board Certified Teacher in mathematics and has spent her 14-year teaching career at Capital High School. She has taught all levels of mathematics and currently teaches 9th- through 12th-grade Geometry and Precalculus.


This latest award follows her 2017 recognition as the Capital Region Educational Service District 113 Regional Teacher of the Year.


Presidential Awardees receive a certificate signed by the President of the United States, a trip to Washington D.C. to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.


Awardees also join an active network of outstanding educators from throughout the nation. Since the award program was established in 1983, more than 5,000 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession. Awardees reflect the expertise and dedication of the nation’s teaching corps, and they demonstrate the positive impact of excellent teachers on student achievement.