Natalie Franke Selected as Award Finalist

Natalie franke

Natalie Franke

Over 20 years of teaching, second grade teacher Natalie Franke has made it her goal to transform the way students perceive math.

In recognition of her dedication Franke was nominated as an Iowa finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. These awards are the highest honors for kindergarten through 12th grade educators of math and science.

Franke, whose time at Waukee Community School District (WCSD) began five years ago, said educators can and should strive to shape students’ perceptions of math at a young age. Franke said through giving students more opportunity to explain their thinking and improving her education techniques based on interactions with student, she aims to give students the best quality education possible.

“I make sure that every student has an entry point into a problem,” Franke said. “I am constantly improving my level of questioning and making the most of my teacher moves to help students articulate their thinking, connections, and misunderstandings.”

Franke said WCSD helped her to develop her education techniques and to be successful through professional learning communities, grade-level collaboration, and support from former Brookview principal Terry Hurlburt and current principal Stephanie Angelino.

“I also learn from the teachers and students in my building every day,” Franke said.

Franke feels honored to have been selected as a finalist for the awards and believes in the importance of reflecting on past to improve current and future learning experiences for students.

“I was able to look closely at my teaching practices when I started participating in math professional development through the Department of Education,” Franke said. “Our beliefs and the messages we send to our students can have a direct correlation to student learning and ability. I want to make sure that my students know they can be good at math no matter what and that they need to believe in themselves.”

More than 4,400 teachers from each of the 50 states and four U.S. jurisdictions have been recognized since Congress created the program in 1983. The awards are administered by the National Science Foundation on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.