CHS teacher receives Presidential Award

Churchland High School teacher named one of the best math and science teachers in the country
Posted on 08/04/2020
Churchland High School teacher named one of the best math and science teachers in the country

Churchland High School's Aziz Zahraoui has been one of the recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). He was one of just two honorees representing the state of Virginia and the roughly 100 teachers nationwide selected for the honor.

Zahraoui has taught mathematics for 15 years, spending his entire career at Churchland High School. He currently teaches Advanced Placement Calculus to 11th and 12th grade students and geometry to ninth-12th grade students.

“We are immensely proud of Mr. Z and all his dynamic work at Churchland High School,” said Dr. Elie Bracy, III, superintendent of Portsmouth Public Schools. “When you talk to his students and his colleagues, it is evident why he was the perfect recipient of this award. His love of mathematics is contagious, and he helps all students see the real-world applications of math that are all around them every day.”

Specifically, Zahraoui was highlighted for using innovative strategies in his classroom to fuel students’ curiosity about mathematics behind natural phenomena, including introducing drones into the classroom and taking students skydiving indoors to experience free fall.

According to a White House press release, PAEMST was established in 1983 and is the highest award given by the U.S. Government to kindergarten through 12th grade teachers of mathematics and science, including computer science.

 “I'm profoundly honored and humbled to receive this award,” Zahraoui shared in accepting the award. “Excellent teaching is the result of the synergy of all stakeholders. I accept this award for my students who brave their insecurities daily to contribute to meaningful discussions, for our communities’ understanding of the importance of productive struggle, for my colleagues and administration for their unconditional support, and for our school board and Superintendent’s office for enacting policies that encourage classroom innovation.”

In order to earn this honor, a panel of distinguished mathematicians, scientists, and educators at the state and national levels assess the applications before recommending nominees to OSTP. Teachers are selected based on their distinction in the classroom and dedication to improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. 

For more information on the award, visit
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