Amanda McGehee
Amanda McGehee

A Dunwoody Elementary School teacher has been honored with the esteemed Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Amanda McGehee, a fifth-grade science teacher, is one of 85 teachers in the country to receive the award this year from President Barack Obama.

“I’m very excited, I did not expect to get this at all,” McGehee said.

McGehee was selected following an intense application process that included letters of recommendation, a video recording of her teaching and a 25-page paper about her teaching philosophy.

“I try to make science fun and I want the students to love science,” McGehee said. “I get to make things bubble and explode … every day is something different and that’s why I like teaching science.”

On May 16, McGehee and her husband traveled to Washington. D.C., for her award. During her stay, McGehee was scheduled to take classes through the National Science Foundation. She also was scheduled to tour the White House and to meet Obama.

McGehee is the school’s science department chair and has been a district science trainer for science teachers in DeKalb County. She is also Dunwoody Elementary School’s teacher of the year.

For McGehee, instilling a love of science in her students means teaching them about the world around them.

“I like hands-on experiences so it’s real for them, and easy and fun,” McGehee said.

For example, to teach her class about erosion, students walked around the school property to identify where erosion was taking place and took pictures. The students then learned about the methods the school was using to correct it and used their photos to make a slide show about how to prevent erosion.

Johnathan Clark, principal of Dunwoody Elementary School, said he was very happy that McGehee received the national recognition.

“She goes above and beyond, it’s a great honor for her,” Clark said. “We’re very excited for her and for the school system. It’s always great to have positive recognition … She works very hard and cares greatly about the kids.”