A photo of Kristen Drury

William Floyd High School science teacher Kristen Drury

Kristen Drury, an Advanced Placement chemistry teacher at William Floyd High School, has been selected as one of just five New York State finalists for the 2021 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) for grades seven through 12. The PAEMST award is one of the most prestigious honors in the nation for teachers and recognizes exemplary teaching in mathematics and science education. Ms. Drury is one of just three statewide finalists for science and the only one hailing from Long Island. 

“It’s very exciting to be a finalist for this award because very few teachers are recognized nationally and it came during a very challenging year,” said Ms. Drury, an accomplished and award-winning educator who has served 16 years in the William Floyd School District. “Even through the challenges that faced us this year, I was able to modify my instruction to better suit my students during the pandemic, and then record and reflect on my work and lesson execution as well as my teaching philosophies in order to complete the award process. That reflection time was hard to come by this year but also crucially important in bettering my practice.”

Ms. Drury continues to be among the top of her field and has earned numerous awards and honors in the process. She was selected among the first group of New York State Master Teachers in 2014, now serving as a New York State Master Teacher Emeritus. She has also earned the 2016 Empire State Excellence in Teaching Award and the 2018 American Association of Chemistry Teachers (AACT) “High School Chemistry Teacher of the Year and the SCOPE Education Services Teacher Award. Then in 2019, she received the POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning) Early Achievement Award and was named an “Outstanding Educator” by the William Floyd Alumni Association, as nominated by a former student. Then in 2020, she earned a Stony Brook University “40 Under Forty award for demonstrating excellence and exemplifying the “Spirit of Stony Brook,” her alma mater.

PAEMST award logo


Additionally, for the past several years, the College Board has called upon  Ms. Drury for her expertise as an AP chemistry reader. She has also been published in the peer-reviewed journal, Chemistry Solutions, and on the American Association of Chemistry Teachers website and in the CHEM13 News Magazine (University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada).

“Ms. Drury is an amazing teacher who always provides the most innovative techniques to her classroom,” said Kevin M. Coster, Superintendent of Schools, William Floyd School District. “She is a highly respected science educator who has been recognized numerous times for her hard work and dedication, and is often called upon for her expertise. She is a tremendous asset to the William Floyd School District and we are fortunate to have her as part of our topnotch science department.”

New York State Education Commissioner Betty Rosa lauded the finalists in an announcement, stating, “Congratulations to each of the outstanding New York educators named as this year’s PAEMST finalists. The finalists are role models not only for their students but also for their fellow educators as they work every day to bring the exciting world of STEM to life in their classrooms.”

"It is not surprising that Kristen has reached the finalist level for the 2021 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching, based on the sum of her extraordinary credentials," said Dr. Luisa McHugh, science department chairperson, William Floyd School District. "A self-proclaimed “science nerd,” Kristen is not just a teacher in the narrow sense, but an educator and an advocate of education and excellence in curriculum and pedagogy at all levels. She is a force of nature who invests countless hours in perfecting her lessons; and even then, continues to tweak them to address all learning modalities. She is continually learning herself and has shared her knowledge with university students for the advancement of science education," she continued. "The recognition Kristen has garnered over her years at William Floyd for her innovative teaching strategies are matched only by the respect Kristen has earned by her scores of students, who she has inspired to either pursue college majors in science, or at the very least, appreciate science as part of their everyday lives. Kristen’s influence and dedication to her students extends far beyond the classroom and is why she is such a worthy finalist for this award."

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) is the highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th grade science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. Up to 108 teachers are recognized each year.

Presidential Awardees receive a certificate signed by the President of the United States, a trip to Washington D.C. to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.

Awardees also join an active network of outstanding educators from throughout the nation. Since 1983, more than 5,000 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession. Awardees reflect the expertise and dedication of the Nation’s teaching corps, and they demonstrate the positive impact of excellent teachers on student achievement.

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