The Presidential Award is a tremendous honor. It validates high-quality mathematics instruction that emphasizes the development of conceptual understanding through problem-based learning. I have been blessed with collaborative colleagues, continuous professional development, a supportive school community, and a loving family. This recognition motivates me to continue to learn, reflect, and collaborate with others so that students are confident problem solvers that say, “I love math!”

Deborah Little Denver, IA | K-6, Mathematics, 2018

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

Deborah “Deb” Little has been a teacher for 27 years, teaching for the last 15 years at Denver Elementary School. She currently teaches fourth grade mathematics, reading, and writing. She has also taught first grade and Title 1/Reading Recovery in the Denver Community School District. Prior to that, she taught in the Waterloo and Cedar Falls School Districts. Each day, Deb’s students engage in real world problems, work individually and collaboratively to find solutions, and defend and critique each other’s reasoning. Her students realize that it’s okay to make mistakes because there is much learning to be discovered through mistakes. Deb’s goals are for her students to develop conceptual understanding, to see themselves as problem solvers, and to use this confidence to seek STEM careers in the future. Deb has worked with mathematics consultants in the Central Rivers Area Education Agency, providing learning lab sessions and videos of problem-based lessons to aid other Iowa educators in their teaching. In her role as a teacher leader, she has modeled problem-based lessons, three-act tasks, and number talks for her colleagues, and has presented professional development at both the building and district level. Deb earned a B.A. in elementary education and a M.A. in reading education from the University of Northern Iowa. She is certified to teach kindergarten through sixth grade.