Receiving the Presidential Award for something I have a great love for is an incredible honor and blessing. It is a testament to the work ethic and value of education that was instilled in me by loving and dedicated parents at a very early age. It challenges me to continue to find ways to improve my craft so I can help my students reach their fullest potential. I hope this award serves as an inspiration for my family, colleagues and students who have inspired me for so many years. 

Bernadine Cotton Las Cruces, NM | K-6, Mathematics, 2014

Bernadine Cotton has been an educator for more than 25 years, teaching first through fourth grade at Tombaugh Elementary School. Her teaching career includes 14 years in a multi-age setting and 18 years working with special education students. She currently teaches third grade inclusion. Her passion for working with children and improving instruction has led to many leadership roles in her school, district, and community. During the 2010 school year, she participated in the Learning and Leading Consortium for 21st Century Learning offered through the Las Cruces Public School District. She was a member of the Leadership Institute for Teachers from 2012–2014 at New Mexico State University. She has also been a presenter and grade level facilitator at the Scientifically Connected Communities summer institutes. She is currently a teacher leader with Mathematically Connected Communities at New Mexico State University and with the Math Leadership Cadre at Las Cruces Public Schools.  She is the recipient of many grants, including a federal stimulus grant that provided a two-year summer program for special education students at Tombaugh Elementary School. Bernadine earned a B.S in education and a M.A. in curriculum and instruction from New Mexico State University. She was recognized as a Crimson Scholar and is certified in kindergarten through eighth grade elementary education.