The Presidential Award validates the time and effort spent cultivating my teaching practice and honors the students, parents, teachers, and administrators who have supported me throughout my career. It is an honor that rewards deliberate practice, perseverance, and personal growth. At the same time, it is a humble reminder to continually strive for improvement because teachers affect so many lives.

Katherine Fincher Amarillo, TX | 7-12, Science, 2019

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

Katherine “Kay” Fincher has been an educator for 30 years. She teaches 10th-12th grade Advanced Placement Physics 1 and 2 at Amarillo High School (AHS). She has taught physics for 20 years at AHS and has also taught introductory physics at Amarillo College for the past 11 years. She previously taught seventh and eighth grade science for 10 years at Bonham Middle School. Kay's love of physics teaching was ignited after attending a physics modeling instruction workshop and learning to teach physics using a student-centered inquiry technique. She, along with other enthusiastic “modelers,” founded the American Modeling Teachers Association (AMTA) to preserve and promote this highly regarded teaching method. Passionate about designing instruction so students can construct their own understanding of concepts, Kay has led many workshops at the local, state, and national levels to share inquiry teaching with other educators. Kay’s students collaborate, create, and communicate as scientists designing experiments, collecting and analyzing data, and sharing evidence-based conclusions with each other. Students frequently solve and test practical problems such as how to create a safe bungee jump for a doll. In 2008 Kay initiated the AHS cardboard boat regatta, which has now grown to a district-wide event, where teams of students design, build, and paddle their cardboard boats in a race for glory and honor. Kay earned a B.S. in biology from West Texas A&M University and a Master of Natural Science in physics education from Arizona State University. She holds a lifetime teaching certificate for any science grades 6–12 and is an AMTA-certified modeling instruction workshop leader. Kay has been honored as the AHS Teacher of the Year and the Texas Academy of Science Outstanding Educator.