Receiving the Presidential Award is an honor because it validates my hard work and gives credit to those who influenced me along the way. I have had wonderful teachers who helped me love mathematics. My years as an educator have been filled with mentors, coworkers, and students who have shown me ways to reach children and create excitement for something that will impact their futures. This award inspires me to continue loving what I do by helping young people see the importance of mathematics.

Kathleen O'Dell Christiansburg, VA | K-6, Mathematics, 2016

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

Kathleen O’Dell has been an educator at Christiansburg Middle School in Montgomery County for 11 years. She currently teaches sixth grade mathematics and advanced mathematics, and has taught comparable courses in seventh grade. Kathy’s passion for teaching fuels her to create a classroom environment that fosters creative thinking and problem solving. Her goal is to have students more confident in their abilities to face challenges and become lifelong thinkers. Kathy provides learning opportunities for students and parents through a morning mathematics tutoring session that includes hands-on learning. She also holds Math Nights for parents and guardians to better understand what their children need to know. Kathy has presented on student engagement and helping students conceptually understand mathematics at local and regional conferences. Kathy received a B.A. in psychology from Rutgers University in 1992. She worked in child care related fields for 15 years, and then completed a career switcher program in 2007 that allowed her to obtain a teaching license. She is certified in prekindergarten through sixth grade elementary education, sixth through eighth grade middle education mathematics, and sixth through eighth grade middle education English. She received her M.A. in education as well as a mathematics specialist endorsement from Virginia Tech in 2017.