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Fort Smith teacher selected as state finalist for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching

Southside teacher Jeffrey Rice is one of the six in Arkansas selected as a state finalist. Overall, 47 Arkansas teachers were nominated.

FORT SMITH, Ark — A Southside High School AP Chemistry teacher has been selected as a state finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science and Teaching. 

Jeffrey Rice is one of the six Arkansas teachers selected as a state finalist out of the 47 who were nominated.

“I am humbled and honored to receive this recognition, and am thankful for the people who nominated and encouraged me through the process. I could not have done it alone,” Rice said.

On behalf of The White House, the National Science Foundation oversees the program that recognizes outstanding science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers who have demonstrated a commitment to professional development, innovative teaching techniques, and technology use in their classrooms.  

“I am extremely proud of these six educators for being named state finalists for this national honor,” said Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key. “These educators represent the best of the best in their fields, and because of their excellence in the classroom, their students will be prepared for the future. Congratulations!” 

The applications will now be reviewed by a national committee of scientists, mathematicians and educators who will recommend up to 108 teachers to receive PAEMST awards. 

Teachers who are selected as national PAEMST awardees each will receive a $10,000 award, a presidential citation and a trip to Washington, DC, to attend a series of recognition events, professional development activities and an awards ceremony.

“I cannot say enough about the great work that Mr. Rice does on a daily basis. His attention to detail, focus on student success, and positive example that he sets are second to none. Southside High School is a better place because Mr. Rice is a part of our team,” said Jeff Prewitt, Southside High School principal. 

In February 2021, Rice was recognized with the 2021 Distinguished High School Mentor Award from the Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Arkansas. He was the fifth Southside High School recipient of the award.

“Mr. Rice consistently models high expectations and utilizes effective teaching strategies each day in the classroom. He is an excellent example for his colleagues and the Fort Smith Public Schools District is lucky to have him at Southside High School!” said Tony Jones, Director of Secondary Education, Fort Smith Public Schools.

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