Teresa Bulanda's long journey to the steps of the White House began with eight years of teaching in her native Poland, a period spent selling shoes in Newington, followed by seven years in the classrooms of the Hartford Public Schools.
This week in the nation's capital, Bulanda was awarded the 2007 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching for her work as a math teacher at Lewis Fox Middle School.
"I'm here, and I've had a very good time since Monday," Bulanda said during an interview from her hotel Thursday. "I love teaching math."
Bulanda, 48, was one of 99 teachers nationwide, and one of two from Connecticut, to receive the award, which recognizes achievement in math and science teaching. She has taught seventh- and eighth-grade math in Hartford since receiving her credentials through the state's Alternate Route to Teacher Certification program for mid-career professionals in 2001.
Nominated for the award by her school, Bulanda went through the extensive application process and, in November, learned that she was a state finalist. Then she got the e-mail that she had won national recognition.
"I was really excited about it," she said.
The other Connecticut teacher recognized this year is Jon Swanson, who teaches science at the E.O. Smith High School in Storrs.
Bulanda and Swanson each received a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation, the federal agency that administers the awards program on behalf of the White House. They also received a week's trip for two to Washington D.C., and had their pictures taken outside the White House with Vice President Dick Cheney.
Established by Congress in 1983, the awards program annually identifies highly qualified mathematics and science teachers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. territories, and the U.S. Department of Defense schools. This year's recipients, recommended for the award by a panel of leading mathematicians, scientists, and educators, are teachers of grades seven through twelve.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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