Loujeania Maynus, the Math/Science Partnership Coordinator for the West Virginia Department of Education, is the only West Virginia educator this year to receive the highest honor given to K-12 math and science teachers for their contributions.
Maynus moved to the Department of Education in December from Collins Middle School in Oak Hill, where the mother of five drew on her personal experiences to inspire students to become curious learners who take responsibility for their own learning.
“It is a daily challenge to inspire the hearts and minds of middle school children,” Maynus said. “I worked to connect with my students by learning their styles, strengths, weaknesses and personalities.”
To keep her classes interesting, Maynus related her lessons to the real world. While learning about fractions, ratios and percentages, she challenged students to find the percentage of letters in their names. Students then try to calculate the probability of certain letter frequencies in words in a version of the Wheel of Fortune game.
“Math and science are critical to preparing today’s students for the 21st century,” said Steve Paine, state superintendent of schools. “Lou Maynus is an example of how excellent teaching can help students learn math concepts in fun and creative ways.”
Now at the Department of Education, she shares her methods with teachers across the state.
“This award is such an honor and validates my beliefs in the teaching and learning of mathematics,” Maynus said. As part of the award, Maynus received $10,000 from the National Science Foundation, which administers the program, and was recognized earlier this month at an awards ceremony during an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. The week-long celebration also included professional development activities. Recipients receive other gifts, including computer software and online teaching tools.
“Education is the future of our country and the gateway to a hopeful tomorrow,” President Bush said in a letter to recipients. “To keep America competitive, we must encourage our next generation of leaders to study math and science.”
Established by Congress in 1983, the annual program 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. Candidates are chosen by a panel of scientists, mathematicians and educators on the basis of their teaching performance, background and experience.