Department of Defense Education Activity

Four DoDEA Educators Selected for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching

ALEXANDRIA, VA — May 10, 2021 — The Department of Defense Education Activity is pleased to announce the DoDEA State Selection Committee for the 2021 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) Program has selected four state-level finalists for 7-12th grade teachers of science and mathematics.

The four selected DoDEA Educators include:

Angela Bennett, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) American High School, Science

Angela Bennett has been a science teacher for 16 years and is currently in her 2nd year teaching Chemistry and AP Chemistry at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) American High School for the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA). She has previously taught in the IB program at JT Hoggard High School in Wilmington, N.C for 4 years and at Pleasant Grove High School in Pleasant Grove, AL for 10 years.

During her time at Pleasant Grove High School she was named the 2012 - 2013 Pleasant Grove High School Teacher of the Year. She maintains a leadership position at SHAPE HS as the Lead AP Teacher and is a member of the CSILT team. She has facilitated professional development activities in order to help teachers create a more engaging learning environment for their students while using digital resources.

Angela is a very engaging teacher and her classes are very popular among the students. She is continuously improving her teaching methods in order to provide students with real world experiences, hands-on activities, laboratory experiments where the students can learn while performing tasks. In her short amount of time at SHAPE HS she has practically doubled her enrollment in AP Chemistry.

Angela earned a B. S. from the School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at the University of Alabama, Birmingham with a major in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. She continued her studies at UAB and earned her M. A. Ed in Secondary Science.

Paul Cuaresma, Guam High School, Science

Paul Cuaresma has been teaching High School Science for the past 10 years, 9 of which has been at Guam High School with the DoDEA Pacific West District. He currently teaches students AP Physics 1, Physics in the Universe, and Environmental Science. In addition to students learning science in the classroom, Mr. Cuaresma actively engages students to perform Science Technology Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) beyond the classroom. For example, since 2013, he serves as an annual teacher sponsor for the DoDEA Pacific Far East STEMinars, and since 2016, coaches student researchers to compete in the annual DoDEA Pacific Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. In addition to classroom duties, he currently serves as Guam High School’s Science Department Chair and Chemical Hygiene Officer.

Rachel Hamer AFNorth International School, Mathematics

Rachel Hamer currently teaches Math 8, Algebra 1 and Financial Algebra at AFNorth International School (DoDEA West) in Brunssum, The Netherlands. Ms. Hamer encourages her students to have a growth mindset and makes it her priority to build their confidence. As a member of AFNorth’s faculty since 2014, her teaching experiences include Math 7, Math 8, Algebra 1, Financial Algebra, Algebraic Modeling, Precalculus and all levels of Math Support courses. She coaches the Middle School Math Olympiads and MATHCounts teams and sponsors the after school math tutoring program. Ms. Hamer’s classroom is recognized as a safe space to express mathematical thought, where risks and mistakes are part of learning. As the Grade 8 class sponsor, Ms. Hamer has led the middle school in student-led conferences, emphasizing student individual reflection and growth. She also coordinates activities that promote character values and develop the social emotional welfare of her students. In the recent district accreditation, Ms. Hamer led the math team in sharing best practices for remote and face-to-face learning. Rachel Hamer was nominated in November 2018 for DoDEA Europe West Teacher of the Year. She continues to be committed to her professional growth and in meeting the ever-changing needs of her students.

Chere Smith, Quantico Middle High School, Mathematics

Chere Smith is a Secondary Mathematics Teacher with over twelve years of experience in public education classrooms. Her passion for teaching has resulted in an exciting and exhilarating career which started in the Denver Public Schools. In Denver, she taught math at the high school and middle school levels, coached Varsity Girls and Boys tennis, mentored students, and supported school clubs and activities. Chere joined DoDEA Quantico Middle High School in 2017, where she has served as STEM coordinator, high school cheerleading sponsor, STEM club sponsor, Mu Alpha Theta National Math Honor Society sponsor, and attended the USNA SET Sail Educator Training in Annapolis, MD. Chere is currently the Math Team lead, member of the Continuous School Improvement team and on the school’s Safe and Healthy Return to School committee. Chere is a recipient of The Education Center Middle School Teacher of the Year Award and has been nominated for the 2021 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Chere hails from Denver, CO and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Midland Lutheran College in Fremont, NE and a M.Ed. in Instructional Technology from Regis University, Denver, CO. Chere’s favorite saying to her students is “Teamwork makes the Dream work,” because together, everyone achieves more.

Awardees represent schools in all 50 U.S. states, Department of Defense Education Activity schools and schools in the U.S. territories American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Award recipients will each receive a presidential citation at an awards ceremony and participate in discussions on STEM and STEM education priorities led by OSTP and NSF. Recipients will also receive $10,000 from NSF, which manages the PAEMST and PAESMEM programs on behalf of the White House.

Established in 1983, PAEMST is the highest award kindergarten through 12th grade mathematics and science (including computer science) teachers can receive from the U.S. government. The award alternates years between kindergarten through sixth grade and seventh-12th grade teachers. This year, on the award's 35th anniversary, kindergarten through sixth grade teachers will be honored.

Nominees complete a rigorous application process that requires them to demonstrate their excellence in content knowledge and ability to adapt to a broad range of learners and teaching environments. A panel of distinguished mathematicians, scientists and educators at the state and national levels assess the applications before recommending nominees to OSTP. Teachers are selected based on their distinction in the classroom and dedication to improving STEM education. For more information on the program, visit

DoDEA plans, directs, coordinates, and manages pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education programs for school-age children of Department of Defense personnel who would otherwise not have access to high-quality public education. DoDEA schools are located in Europe, the Pacific, Western Asia, the Middle East, Cuba, the United States, Guam, and Puerto Rico. DoDEA also provides support and resources to Local Educational Agencies throughout the United States that serve children of military families.