Receiving the Presidential award has been an amazing journey. Working towards this award gave me the opportunity to reflect upon and strengthen my teaching practice in order to inspire our youngest scientists. This award also reflects the support of my family and colleagues who have encouraged me to take risks; supported me during set-backs; and challenged me to help all students. I look forward to collaborating with colleagues across the nation in advocating for science in the early years.

Kitten Vaa Mountlake Terrace, WA | K-6, Science, 2016

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

Kitten Vaa, an educator for 17 years, has taught at Brighton School for six years. She currently teaches all subjects in second grade. Teaching kids to be thinkers and to love learning is her passion. She especially loves science and literacy. Outside the classroom, Kitten enjoys collaborating with colleagues around science. She collaborated with teacher leaders across the state through the Partnership for Ambitious Science Teacher Leaders (PASTL) and Washington State’s Science Fellows. As an instructional leader, she focused on implementing science teaching practices that supported highly rigorous and equitable learning environments in science; led small groups to analyze student work; and also shared her students' work and videos through these organizations. In 2015–2016, Kitten worked part-time as the K-6 science lead for Edmonds School District. She provided professional development for administrators, instructional coaches, and teachers with the Next Generation Science Standards. In addition, as a member of the K-12 STEM literacy team, she helped create a vision and framework to ensure all students have experiences in STEM literacy. Kitten earned a B.S. in psychology from the University of Washington. Kitten received a M.A.T. from City University, and a Washington State K-6 Elementary Education teaching certificate.