The Presidential Award validates my work in education and affirms the need for thinking-based authentic investigations as a cornerstone for curriculum. But, more importantly, it serves as a personal clarion call to reject complacency and redouble my efforts in providing the best educational opportunities for all students. I am deeply humbled by this honor because I know that without the countless instances of support and sacrifice by my family and colleagues, I would not be in this situation.

Erik Von Burg Mesa, AZ | K-6, Science, 2016

Erik Von Burg is in his 18th year in education and is currently the Department Specialist for Mesa Public School’s Gifted and Talented Program. He previously taught third through sixth grade gifted classes at Veora E. Johnson Elementary and MacArthur Elementary Schools. He also taught robotic programming and parametric modeling courses at Carson Junior High School. Erik embraces rigorous curriculum emphasizing problem solving and metacognition. His students participate in a range of projects including robotics, computer programming, and engineering design. Erik also develops and teaches courses for Arizona State University’s (ASU) School of Engineering summer science camps. In 2012, Erik was named Arizona Science Teachers Association’s (ASTA) Science Teacher of the Year and has presented at ASTA and National Science Teachers Association conferences. Since 2008, Erik has coached FIRST LEGO League, VEX IQ, and VEX robotics teams. He partners with ASU’s School of Engineering to conduct statewide robotics programming workshops for FLL coaches and serves as a mentor on the state FLL Expert Panel. Erik earned a B.S., summa cum laude, in psychology, a B.A., summa cum laude, in education, and a M.A. in education with an emphasis in English as a second language from Arizona State University. He is certified in kindergarten through eighth grade and K-12 gifted and talented education.