Local teacher up for Presidential award

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Montse Ramirez
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The 55-pound fourth grader's face illuminated with happiness when she saw she was able to pick up a 265-pound, 6-foot 3-inch man.
That day, Perry Dunkeson's fourth grade science class learned about levers and other simple machines and how to use them.

Mr. Dunkeson has been perfecting his teaching methods at this Air Force Global Strike Command base for 20 years now, and with the help of The Knob Noster school district's technology and resources, he is becoming the students' favorite teachers.

"Knob Noster has done a good job of providing its teachers with current and up to date technology," said Mr. Dunkeson. "They have provided all the teachers a membership to tap into the Discovery channels endless supply of videos, clips and photos."

His student's seem to appreciate his methods as they commented, "Mr. Dunkeson is the coolest, and he's so nice and fun."

His teaching methods seem to be working since a fellow teacher Nancy Harris nominated him for the Presidential Award for Mathematics and Science. He is currently awaiting the results, among two other nominees.

Mr. Dunkeson uses a hands approach to teach his students because they'll be able to gain a better understanding.

"Students can read about Newton's laws or they can test them," he said. "Practicing science helps students remember and understand better."

According to the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching website (www.paemst.org), the PAEMST are the nation's highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science. The awards recognize outstanding K-12 teachers for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession.

Each winner receives a citation signed by the President of the United States, a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation, and gifts from a broad range of donors. Awardees and their guests are honored during events that take place in Washington, DC. These events include: a ceremony, celebratory receptions, professional development programs, and discussions with policy-makers on how to improve mathematics and science education.

Mr. Dunkeson said he was flattered by the nomination, but what gives him the pleasure to teach everyday is to see the 'aha moment' in children's faces.

"It's much more important to me for students to see that I care about them and their education" he said. "When a student gives me a hug and says 'that was really cool' then I know that student has an interest, and that's awesome."

He said he decided to be vested at Whiteman elementary for the past 20 years because he could make a difference in children's lives more than other places.

"When I first arrived here, desert storm was going on and children's parents were deploying," he said. "With their dad's gone, I felt like a lot of them needed a father figure. I've learned the Air Force is involved in many community events and programs, I wanted to be part of that and help."