Allysen Lovstuen
Allysen Lovstuen

Decorah High School mathematics teacher Allysen Lovstuen is one of five Iowa teachers who have been named state finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Lovstuen joins other math finalists Brian Reece of Central Academy in Des Moines and Jeff Marks of Roosevelt High School in Des Moines. The finalists in science are Marcia Powell of West Delaware High School in Manchester and Shannon McLaughlin of Norwalk High School.

The Iowa finalists' applications have been submitted to the national selection committee. One math and one science award-winner will be selected to represent Iowa. Award-winners receive $10,000 and a trip to Washington, D.C., where they will participate in an award ceremony and receptions, professional development programs and discussions with policy-makers on how to improve math and science education.

"The work of math and science teachers is especially critical as we work to grow Iowa's commitment to bolster science, technology, engineering and mathematics education," said Brad Buck, director of the Iowa Department of Education.

"These talented teachers will help lead Iowa to a strong future in STEM."

Lovstuen said her classroom techniques empower students to arrive at answers themselves, which bolsters confidence.

"I love letting the students see the power of math as a tool and the creativity and beauty of math that most people who never go on into math ever see," said Lovstuen, of Waukon.

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching are the nation's highest honors specifically for kindergarten through 12th grade teachers of math and science.

More than 4,200 teachers have been recognized since Congress established the program in 1983. The National Science Foundation administers the awards on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Awards are given to math and science teachers from each of the 50 states and four U.S. jurisdictions. The program recognizes those teachers who develop and implement a high-quality instructional program that is informed by content knowledge and enhances student learning. Awards alternate annually between elementary and secondary teachers.

Iowa's finalists were chosen by a panel of science and math educators from across the state. Read more about each finalist on the Iowa Department of Education's website: