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Ascension's Tabitha Vu is a State Finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

This is a media release from Ascension Public Schools.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 20, 2017
CONTACT: Jackie Tisdell, 225-210-7567
or Jackie.Tisdell@apsb.org

Ascension's Tabitha Vu is a State Finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Chemistry teacher Tabitha Vu stands in the halls of Dutchtown High School. Photo credit: Preston Wyatt
NOTE: The following press release was written by APSB Public Information Office intern Preston Wyatt, who is a senior at Dutchtown High School.

Geismar, La. — Dutchtown High School (DTHS) chemistry teacher Tabitha Vu is one of five state finalists for the 2017 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). This is the second time a teacher from Ascension and DTHS has achieved this honor in the last three years. 

“Ascension is incredibly proud of Mrs. Vu. She is both an accomplished teacher and a product of our school system. Her innovative teaching method is getting much-deserved recognition," said Ascension Public Schools Superintendent David Alexander.

Vu receives certificate with LA first lady & BESE presidentVu has been with the DTHS family for the last 12 years teaching and reaching students from a number courses such as chemistry, AP chemistry, physical science, and environmental science. This award is one of the highest of honors for math and science teachers and is best bestowed on those for leadership and inspiration within the field of education. If named a national finalist, she will receive an official certificate signed by the President of the United States in addition to a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.

“It is very exciting to be a state finalist for this prestigious award, and it would be an honor to represent Dutchtown and Ascension on a national level," said Vu.

Born and raised in Prairieville, Vu grew up with a love for chemistry. While a student at East Ascension High School (EAHS), she met a unique group of science mentors: Jill Holdridge and Michael “Brendan” Simoneaux. Upon graduation at EAHS, Vu attended Louisiana State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education with a focus on chemistry. When DTHS opened its doors in 2003, she began her career in education teaching environmental science, physical science, and chemistry classes under another mentor, Bobbie Keller.

Vu returned to LSU to earn a master’s degree in educational leadership. In 2005, she began teaching only chemistry classes alongside her former teacher, Simoneaux, who was a 2015 PAEMST national honoree. Simoneaux encouraged Vu to pursue both National Board Certification and PAEMST.

Vu interacting with two female students THE MODULE SYSTEM
In the fall of 2015, she created an individualized, structured learning approach, known as the Module System. According to Vu, “the concept is designed for students who not only want to survive, but also thrive in chemistry. It creates a comfortable atmosphere for the student that wants to move at their own pace."

Students in Vu’s chemistry classes take daily assessments, called pretests. Based on the results of the pretests, students are grouped in “squads” to help each other reflect on what they missed. Once the reflection period is over, students are given a chance to retake the pretest. Vu utilizes Google Classroom to post notes, practice questions, and detailed solutions to the practice questions for each level.  

The individualized teaching approach is working. Going into the first nine weeks benchmark period, Vu set a class index goal of 120.1, and initial results show students exceeded that goal with an outstanding index of 123.3.

Vu’s Module System was adopted by the entire chemistry department at DTHS. Moreover, she has enlisted teachers from different schools such as University High School and EAHS to contribute to a lesson database. By collaborating with other teachers, Vu hopes to see continued expansion of the Module System so more students can learn to love chemistry while accelerating at their own pace.

MORE ABOUT THE PRESIDENTIAL AWARD
The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is awarded annually to outstanding K-12 science and mathematics teachers from across the country. The winners are selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators following an initial selection process done at the state level. Each year the award alternates between teachers teaching kindergarten through 6th grade and those teaching 7th through 12th grades. The awardees named this year teach 7th through 12th grades.
 
To learn more about the award, visit www.paemst.org.

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PHOTO 1 CAPTION: Chemistry teacher Tabitha Vu (center) receives the 2017 Finalist for the Louisiana Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching from Louisiana First Lady Donna Edwards (left) and Louisiana BESE President Gary Jones. Photo credit: Mia Edwards

PHOTO 2 CAPTION: Chemistry teacher Tabitha Vu (center) interacts with students Zari Montegut (left) and Sarah Guedry. Photo credit: Preston Wyatt
 
David Alexander
Superintendent



ASCENSION PARISH SCHOOL BOARD
---------------------------
Patricia Russo

Board President

Taft Kleinpeter
Board Vice President

Robyn Penn Delaney

Scott Duplechein
Julie Blouin
Kerry Diez
John Murphy
Shawn Sevario
Louis Lambert
Troy Gautreau, Sr.
Lorraine Wimberly
ABOUT ASCENSION PUBLIC SCHOOLS: The Ascension Public Schools system is the largest employer in the parish with over 2,800 employees that support 22,500 students in 27 schools.  An A-rated school district since 2011-12, school performance has grown by 69% over the past four years and currently ranks fourth in Louisiana.
 
RECENT AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS:
 
  • G.W. Carver Primary won the prestigious 2017 National TAP Founder's Award
  • Dutchtown Middle student Aubrey Green was a finalist for the 2017 Louisiana Middle School Student of the Year and Dutchtown's Hiba Hasan was the 2016 Louisiana Middle School Student of the Year
  • Former St. Amant High Principal Mia Edwards was a semifinalist for 2018 Louisiana Principal of the Year
  • Ascension Public Schools earned the Government Finance Officers Association's (GFOA) Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the fourth consecutive year. Ascension is one of only two school districts in Louisiana to achieve this honor.
  • Ascension Public Schools won a Gold Medallion Award from the National School Public Relations Association, the only recipient from Louisiana to receive this top honor in recent history
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