Fort Bragg, NC | October 2, 2016
Two Fort Bragg teachers have been recognized for excellence in teaching math to military children.
Rosa Buser and Linda Barnwell, who teach at Hampton Primary School, have been named among North Carolina's winners of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
That puts them in the running to receive national honors next spring.
The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching are the highest honors bestowed by the U.S. government specifically for K-12 mathematics and science.
The awards - which highlight teachers who serve as models for their colleagues, inspirations for their communities and leaders in education - are administered by the National Science Foundation on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Up to 108 teachers are honored each year.
Buser and Barnwell said they were thrilled to receive the honors.
Buser teaches learning impaired students. Barnwell taught second grade last year and is teaching first grade this year.
Both said the experience of the award, spurred by nominations from colleagues, will make them better teachers.
As part of the application process, each teacher had to complete an extensive write-up and record a class session for review.
Still, the honors came as a shock for the educators.
"I was flabbergasted," said Barnwell, who has taught at Hampton Primary for three years but has been a teacher for 34 years, mostly within military schools.
"It was a very big surprise," said Buser, who is also in her third year at Hampton Primary and in her eighth year overall teaching special education students.
Each said they were inspired to teach based on their own experiences in the classroom.
"I had a teacher when I was in the sixth grade that brought the classroom to life," Barnwell said.
Math is of particular interest to Barnwell because she said the subject didn't always come easy to her, but it is extremely important for a child's development.
"It's a challenge," she said. "I had a hard time sometimes in math when I was younger. But now I love it. Math is so important."
She said math skills tie into so many different subjects and life skills, even if its connection is sometimes overlooked.
"My goal as a teacher is to help these kids be as independent as possible," Buser said. "I want to help kids who need the most support."
Hampton Principal Priscilla Joiner notified both teachers at the same time.
The result, Buser said, was a "huge hug."
"I was so excited," she said. "It was a very big surprise."
Barnwell and Buser thanked those who nominated them and Joiner for her support.
"She gives us the opportunity to try new things," Barnwell said.
"She has really lit the fire for me to do my absolute best," added Buser.
The two Fort Bragg teachers were among four Department of Defense Education Activity Americas teachers to be named state-level winners. The others were Jessica Krachenfels from Macdonald Elementary School at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and Kara Fernandez from Delalio Elementary School at Camp Lejeune.
Military editor Drew Brooks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 486-3567.