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Fort Smith Teacher Selected as State Finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching

Southside High School AP Chemistry teacher Jeffrey Rice has been selected as a State Finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching.

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. Forty-seven Arkansas teachers were nominated and only six were selected as state finalists.

“I am extremely proud of these six educators for being named state finalists for this national honor,” Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key said. “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!”

“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,” said Mr. Rice.

“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 Mr. Jeff Prewitt, Southside High School principal. 

“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 Dr. Tony Jones, Director of Secondary Education, Fort Smith Public Schools. 

A national committee of scientists, mathematicians, and educators will next review the applications and recommend up to 108 teachers to receive PAEMST awards. Teachers who are selected as national PAEMST awardees each receive a $10,000 award, a presidential citation, and a trip to Washington, DC, for a series of recognition events, professional development activities, and an awards ceremony.

In February 2021, Mr. 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.

Jeffrey Rice


Read more: Six Arkansas Teachers Selected as Finalists for National Awards in Math, Science Teaching