Receiving the Presidential Award challenges me to advocate for making powerful mathematics teaching valued, visible, and accessible for even more of our nation’s children. I am thrilled to be recognized for teaching that puts students’ own perceptions at the center of their learning. My receiving this award is a tribute to everyone — students, educators, family, and friends — who have taught me that learning is messy, and perplexity and persistence are essential for deep understanding.

Jana Dean Olympia, WA | K-6, Mathematics, 2016

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

Jana Dean has taught in Olympia schools since 1994 and most recently taught sixth grade mathematics and science for eight years at Jefferson Middle School. Next year, she will teach mathematics, health, and physical education at Reeves Middle School. Jana has also taught teacher candidates at The Evergreen State College (TESC). Visitors describe Jana’s classroom as full of joyful, intellectual curiosity. She asks students open questions to help them solve problems instead of rescuing them. She offers students tools for building their own ideas and teaches them to ask about each others’ thinking. Jana structures her class so students revisit problems that puzzle and intrigue them. Jana facilitates mathematics education collaborative workshops under the principle that when teachers have their own mathematical breakthroughs they can provide the same for their students. Honors include travel to the International Congress of Math Educators, and a fellowship in the Arctic. She writes for Rethinking Schools and is now a science editor. Jana earned a B.A. in liberal arts from TESC and a M.Ed. from Antioch New England Graduate School. She holds a Washington teaching certificate with endorsements in fourth through ninth grade mathematics and science, fourth through twelfth grade humanities, and kindergarten through eighth grade elementary.