The Presidential Award recognizes the significant role of teachers in the United States. To have a presidential administration acknowledge both the greatness of our teaching profession and the sacrifice with which it comes is hopeful and moving.

Jessye Gaines Madison, AL | 7-12, Mathematics, 2019

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

Jessye Gaines has spent her 10-year career teaching 9th-12th grade engineering at Bob Jones High School and has spent the past five years serving as Engineering Department Chair. Jessye seeks to bridge the gap between the classroom and industry by serving as engineering internship program director at her school. Since 2010, Jessye has successfully trained, found internships for, and overseen approximately 330 students with over 35 companies (including NASA, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Siemens). In her classroom, students solve real-world problems through project-based learning. Students are immersed in the engineering design process, mathematical models, computer-aided design 3D software, and statistics. Jessye's love of hands-on learning extends beyond the school day as she coaches National Champion GreenpowerUSA teams. Her students design, build, and compete with single-seat electric cars across the southeastern United States as they apply engineering concepts learned in class. Jessye founded a high school chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWENext) which partners with a local university SWE chapter for a big sister/little sister mentor program. Jessye organizes monthly breakfast-with-an-engineer events where high school students are inspired by local female engineers to pursue STEM fields. Professionally, Jessye is a SWE member and has served as a national conference speaker and representative for congressional meetings on Capitol Hill around diversity and inclusion in STEM. Jessye earned a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering degree from Auburn University. She is a certified secondary mathematics teacher and is certified in Project Lead The Way Engineering curriculum.