Education alumna honored with presidential awards for excellence

February 19, 2022

Mallory Emmans headshot

Mallory Emmons ’06, MAT ’07, is one of the lucky few who from childhood knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up: a teacher.

“I knew it. There were no other choices. I did not have a plan B,” she said.

As a second grade teacher in Orange, Connecticut, math was her passion. A colleague nominated her for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) and Emmons went through the rigorous application process that allowed her to demonstrate deep content knowledge and her ability to adapt to a broad range of learners and teaching environments.

In August 2021 she learned that she was one of the 117 teachers, mentors and mentoring organizations nationwide to receive the PAEMST, as decided by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Teachers are selected based on their distinction in the classroom and dedication to improving STEM education.

Quinnipiac School of Education Dean Anne Dichele told Emmons that she wanted to ‘shout it from the rooftops’ when she heard Emmons’ news, knowing that the PAEMST is the highest award a K-12 teacher can receive from the United States government.

“With hundreds of thousands of public school educators in this country, it is amazing, yet not surprising that Mallory was chosen for this award,” Dichele said. “To have one of the School of Education’s alumni be honored in this way not only brings pride to our faculty, students, and alumni, but speaks to the potential of all our teacher candidates and alumni to reach the highest levels of professional excellence. We are deeply proud of Mallory – it is an honor well-deserved.”

Emmons served as a district grade level representative to develop a new context-based mathematics curriculum for the Orange Elementary School District. She worked with grade level colleagues and new teachers to develop context-based units of study. She was a TEAM Trained Mentor for new teachers and has served as a cooperating teacher for multiple beginning educators. She is also a member of the National Education Association and the Connecticut Education Association.

It clearly takes a special and skilled educator to receive this award. When asked to describe her ideology for teaching, Emmons admitted that the question forced her to do some soul searching.

“If you asked me this 10 years ago, I would have had a very different answer. I was that young teacher, taking on the world and all things were possible,” she said.

Fifteen years later, it’s about guiding students on their educational journey.

“My hope is that by setting high expectations for students and then encouraging them to succeed through a process of productive struggle, that they themselves realize their potential to be successful. I just see myself as a vessel,” she said.

Although, she is still taking on the world and thinking all things are possible, while her ideology evolves.

“As a teacher, if you don't shift your ideology, you're always going to be stuck and the world will change around you,” she said.

She has changed as the world has changed. As a swim instructor when she was in her teens, she loved teaching children. She loved watching them do things that they never thought they could do. So wholly set on becoming a teacher, she was warned that teaching children was hard work, but she knew she was up for the challenge. She gets up every morning ready to do what she loves: teaching children.

“What I hope for all of my students is that they gain a love of learning first, but then I hope that they remember how much fun they have while they were learning,” she said. “As a teacher, you have expectations for students, and students tend to thrive when those expectations are consistent. But it’s also about having fun with your students while they're learning to read and to write and to do math, but also that they loved coming to school, that they felt safe, that they felt accepted, that they felt they could be themselves.”

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