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Chase teacher receives highest national honor

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Jill Francis in front of a display regarding the national honors.

Recently, the White House named Jill Francis, a Chase High School teacher, recipient of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). PAEMST are the nation's highest honors for teachers of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science.

Two teachers are selected from each state.

With this award, Francis and the nation's other top teachers, will receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation; a certificate signed by the President; a trip to Washington, D.C. to celebrate their accomplishments; and join a prestigious cadre of more than 5,000 teacher-alumni from across the nation. While they are in D.C., they will participate in professional development activities and network with fellow STEM educators from across the nation.

"The Presidential Award is an affirmation of my life's calling to create opportunities for my students to learn science by doing science," Francis said.

"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," Francis said.

Chase High School principal Kevin Bradley said Francis was recognized as a state finalist at a State Board of Education meeting in Raleigh last Fall, and she was then considered this Spring at the national level.

"I am very excited to let you all know that this afternoon, President Donald J. Trump announced Mrs. Francis as a recipient of this Presidential Award," Bradley said last Monday afternoon when the national announcement was made.

"Please join me in congratulating her on the prestigious honor. It is well deserved," Bradley added.

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 R-S Middle School for one year.

As the district secondary science professional learning community lead, Francis 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.

An advocate of inquiry-based science instruction, Francis 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.

Awardees also join an active network of outstanding educators from throughout the nation. Since 1983, more than 5,000 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession. Awardees reflect the expertise and dedication of the Nation's teaching corps, and they demonstrate the positive impact of excellent teachers on student achievement.

Francis 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.

She is the daughter of Chivous and Lucy Bradley and is the wife of Chris Francis. The couple has two sons.

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