The Presidential Award is an affirmation of my life’s calling to create opportunities for my students to learn science by doing science. It is truly humbling to be recognized among this group of distinguished educators and an inspiration for me to continue my own professional growth. This honor is also a reflection of the supportive colleagues, administrators, and district leaders who encourage and enable me to experiment with creative and innovative approaches to teaching and learning.

Jill Francis Forest City, NC | 7-12, Science, 2019

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

Jill Francis has been an educator for 21 years and has spent the last 10 teaching Biology, Honors Biology, Advanced Placement Biology, and AP Environmental Science to 9th-12th grade students at CHASE High School. She previously served as the Rutherford County Schools secondary science instructional coach for two years after teaching biology at CHASE High for eight years and seventh grade science at RS Middle School for one year. As the district secondary science professional learning community lead, Jill helps plan meaningful professional development experiences for all middle and high school science teachers in Rutherford County Schools and acts as a liaison between her peers and district administrators. She has served as a member of her state Superintendent’s teacher advisory council, created instructional units for the Governor’s teacher network, and served as the teacher representative on the North Carolina Cognia State Advisory Council. She was selected as the CHASE High School, Rutherford County Schools, and 2013 North Carolina Western Region Teacher of the Year. An advocate of inquiry-based science instruction, Jill designs lessons through which her students build conceptual understanding of science through exploration, collaboration, conversation, and the use of technology. She helped start the first Science Olympiad team in her district to meet the desire of her students to extend their science knowledge and skills beyond the classroom. Jill earned a B.S., cum laude, in biology with secondary education certification from Appalachian State University and a M.A.Ed. in science education from East Carolina University. She is a National Board Certified Teacher in science/adolescence and young adulthood and holds certifications in grades 9–12 science and biology.