The Presidential Award recognizes passionate teachers that excel beyond normal classroom expectations and push their students to the next level, further paving a path towards their future success. These teachers make personal sacrifices and it’s important for their efforts to be acknowledged and supported. To me, receiving this award means that my passion and efforts towards promoting STEM education opportunities for my students are being recognized by my school, community, and nation.

Tessie Ford Waipahu, HI | 7-12, Science, 2019

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

Tessie Ford has been an educator at Waipahu High School for the past seven years. For every one of those years, she has taught physics, but her passion in STEM has led to teaching many science, STEM, and engineering classes. Currently, she teaches Introduction to Engineering for freshman, Engineering Technology I and II for sophomores and juniors, Physics for juniors and seniors, as well as Industrial and Engineering Technology Capstone, STEM Capstone and Seminar in Scientific Research with a focus on astronomy for seniors. Every year, Tessie creates partnerships with industry professionals to help her students gain industry certifications, paid internships, and projects that help drive her engineering curriculum. One of these is the tiny house design challenge that requires the students to collaboratively design, construct, and present their process and products displayed at our State Capitol. Her capstone and astronomy research students submit their projects in our Leeward District science & engineering fair where many of them have moved onto the state and international levels. She has many professional development experiences, including an eight-week summer internship at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where she worked alongside astrophysicists to conduct experiments with ions using crystal and calorimeter spectrometers. Tessie also had the opportunity to share her experiences with the science and education community at American Physical Society and American Association of Physics Teachers’ national conferences. Tessie earned a B.Ed. in physics secondary education and a M.Ed. in STEMS^2 (STEM content with a focus on social sciences and sense of place) curriculum studies, both from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. She is certified in secondary physics.