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Jessye Gaines at Bob Jones honored with Presidential Award for Excellence

MADISON – She had to wait two years to officially receive it, but Jessye Gaines recently was honored in Washington D.C. with a prestigious, national teaching award.

In March 2020, the White House selected Gaines as a Secondary Mathematics recipient from Alabama for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. At that time, Gaines participated in a zoom ceremony for the awards.

Gaines teaches in the Engineering Academy at Bob Jones High School.

With the severe risk of COVID-19 abated, Gaines was invited to the belated honors ceremony and celebration in Washington D.C. to receive her top national teaching award in person. Gaines joined other recipients engaged in professional development for two days.

In addition, the award recipients met with White House Advisors, Director of the Smithsonian Institute, National Science Foundation representatives and other federal staff. The winners gathered at the National Portrait Gallery for an awards dinner with former astronaut Ellen Ochoa, who is Director of Johnson Space Flight Center. An awards ceremony was held at the historic Warner Theater.

“The Presidential Award recognizes the significant role of teachers in the United States. To have a presidential administration acknowledge both the greatness of our teaching profession and the sacrifice which comes with it is hopeful and moving,” Gaines said.

“I am in awe of all teachers that I was able to share the experience with. I am grateful to the federal education leaders who took the time to sit with classroom teachers and listen to our ideas, as well as our frustrations,” Gaines said.

“The team for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching treated us so well. It was a fantastic way to not only celebrate the awardees, but to also celebrate surviving two very hard years of being in education,” Gaines said in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This Presidential Award is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Mrs. Gaines exemplifies excellence in her classroom and within the community each day. She is so deserving of this recognition as she positively impacts, challenges and connects with her students,” Bob Jones Principal Sylvia Lambert said in 2020 when Gaines was notified as an award winner.

A Madison native, Gaines graduated from Bob Jones in 2006. She earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering at Auburn University.

Her husband Luke Gaines works as an engineer with Shape Fidelity Inc. Their daughters — nine-year-old Kay and seven-year-old Glenne — both attend Madison Elementary School.

In recent years, Gaines was named District Secondary Teacher of the Year for Madison City Schools. At Bob Jones, Jessye sponsors Green Power Patriot Racing and Society of Women Engineers.

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