It is a humbling experience to receive the Presidential Award. When I began teaching elementary school, I would have said that science was my greatest weakness. With mentors, colleagues, and administrators who encouraged, supported, and had faith in me, I evolved, and science became my area of strength. I have always felt that since it was a subject where I struggled, it was easier for me to see the state standards through the eyes of my students, allowing me to make science relevant and clear.

Karla West Maryville, TN | K-6, Science, 2018

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

Karla West has been an educator for over 30 years. She has been teaching fifth grade science and reading at Coulter Grove Intermediate School for four years. Previously, she taught at Concord Christian School for four years and in Knox County Schools for 12 years. In addition, she taught at schools in Georgia and Texas. Karla has served as a Tennessee summer science training facilitator for numerous years, has presented at the Tennessee State Science Teacher Conference twice, has taught and directed Camp Invention for 10 years, and most recently has facilitated an afterschool science club for fifth grade students. She has been awarded multiple science grants including a total of $32,000 for technology from Oak Ridge Associated Universities and $2,000 from the Maryville City Schools Foundation for Crazy Traits (manipulatives used to teach genetics.) Karla earned her B.S. in elementary education from Carson-Newman University where she became certified to teach first through eighth grade. She earned a M.S. in curriculum and instruction from the University of Tennessee and her Ed.S. in curriculum and instruction from Lincoln Memorial University.