The Presidential Award is an absolute honor. I’m filled with gratitude, validation, inspiration, and a renewed excitement for teaching mathematics. This recognition is a testimony to the power of teacher collaboration, rich professional development, and a supportive school community. I am truly thankful for the lessons my students and colleagues teach me every day and for the encouragement of my family and friends.

Kara Nelson Bozeman, MT | K-6, Mathematics, 2014

The official biography below was current at the time of the award.

Kara Nelson has taught mathematics and other subjects in third through fifth grades for 11 years. She has experience in three large school districts and two states. She has been at Meadowlark Elementary School for three years, where she teaches fifth grade. Kara establishes a culture for learning by developing a classroom community. Students in her class feel comfortable taking risks, constructing mathematical conjectures, and respectfully analyzing arguments. Kara provides rigorous learning opportunities for students to grow a conceptual understanding of mathematics using daily number talks, student-led investigations, songs, and technology. For the past two years, Kara served as a Master Teacher with the NEA Better Lessons Master Teacher Project, documenting and sharing over 200 classroom-ready lessons aligned with Common Core Standards. In addition, Kara worked closely with educators in mathematics by taking part in a two-year, state-wide professional development project with Montana State University. She is also a member of the district mathematics and building leadership teams. Kara earned a B.S. in elementary education from Montana State University, followed by a M.Ed. in elementary education and a M.Ed. in educational administration, both from Whitworth University. Additionally, Kara is a 2011 National Board Certified Teacher in Middle Childhood.