Wheatley HS biology teacher named finalist for Presidential Award

Wheatley High School biology teacher Ferleshare Starks poses for a photograph in her classroom, August 14, 2015. (Houston ISD/Dave Einsel)

Ferleshare Starks

Ferleshare Starks, a biology teacher at HISD’s Wheatley High School, has been named a finalist for the 2015 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

Starks, who came to HISD from Fort Bend ISD last year, is one of only 10 educators from Texas to be so honored. She was nominated by Tia Watson, a first-year teacher she is mentoring.

“Being nominated by my mentee is one of the highlights of my career,” said Starks. “My passion is to fill all new teachers with a love for science. Being named a finalist has given me an overwhelming sense of gratitude.”

“Ms. Starks has always been a leader in her profession,” noted Dr. Shirley Rose-Gillian, who serves as the principal of Wheatley. “In May of 2014, I called and asked her to come lead our biology team. She accepted the challenge and has been a vital part to our instructional focus and culture change.”

“Ms. Starks provided me with focus and a sounding board,” added teacher Tia Watson. “She supported me and helped me grow as a first-year teacher while modeling how to evoke passion in students for science.”

The PAEMST recognize seventh- through twelfth-grade mathematics and science teachers whose innovative methods bring teaching to life in the classroom. It is the highest recognition a mathematics or science teacher can receive for exemplary teaching in the United States. The National Science Foundation administers PAEMST on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

“These 10 finalists represent the very best of Texas public education,” Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams said. “The work of these educators helps to spotlight on a national level the outstanding work taking place in math and science classrooms across our state every school day.”

PAEMST winners receive $10,000, a citation signed by the president of the United States, and a paid trip for two to Washington, D.C. to attend recognition events and professional development opportunities. In addition, all of the 2015 finalists for Texas will also be recognized by the State Board of Education.