Elementary School Teacher Wins National Honors

Elementary School Teacher Wins National Honors
Elementary School Teacher Wins National Honors

Things like this don’t come around every day. Barb Franz, is one of eighty-five math and science teachers from across the nation to be honored by President Barack Obama during a reception and ceremony later this year in Washington D.C.

She’s been with North Elementary in Moses Lake teaching kindergarten since 1984. Her career started in 1981 teaching in Kennewick at the Bethalem Lutheran School.

She received the news recently that she was selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians and educators across the State of Washington.

The news simply popped up in her email. She called her daughter, she called her principal. When her students came back from recess, she told them, “I get to meet the President.”

One student, Amy, told her, “I’m so proud of you.” Franz replied, “I told her that was an appropriate response. We teach them that.”

Franz also teaches them mathematical operations. Subtraction was the focus of her portfolio when she was nominated for the award in 2010.

“I thought: I’m going to do it and I’m going to do my best,” she said.

The process of teaching mathematics in kindergarten is a little more complex than you think.

“If I put seven blocks out, they’ll say seven by counting them out– one, two, three, four, five, six, seven,” Franz said. Trust is the key part of learning process. She continued, “If I rearrange them, they stop and recount them. They have to trust the number.”

“They have to put quantities together, take them apart and learn what to do with them,” she explained.

Franz said that research has shown to work with fundamental transitions in mathematical understanding: “They have to understand why they’re doing what they do, how the operations work and what they’re for.”

May 19th is the reception and award ceremony where she’ll meet the President and receive her honor.

She’s allowed to bring one guest: “My husband will be going with me,” she replied.