MCPSS Teacher Wins National PAEMST Award

Nicole Baranov

Hutchens Elementary kindergarten teacher Nicole Baranov has just received one of the nation’s top awards for teaching, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

Baranov, who has taught in Mobile County Public Schools for 15 years, is one of just two winners from Alabama. She is the 11th Mobile County Public Schools teacher to receive this prestigious award (out of 99 total winners from Alabama since the 1980s).

“I just think she’s really awesome,” kindergartner Wyatt McKee said of Ms. Baranov. “I like how she won this great math teacher thing. I just love her so much. She’s a great teacher.”

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) are the highest honors bestowed by the United States government specifically for K-12 science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teaching. The Awards were established by Congress in 1983. The President may recognize up to 108 exemplary teachers each year. 

“Teaching is such a hard job, and it’s validating to know that my work has paid off,” Baranov said, adding how important it is to teach students the foundations they will need to be successful at math throughout their schooling.

“Sometimes it feels like what we’re doing doesn’t matter, but it really does,” Baranov added. “Sometimes we don’t necessarily see our impact in the short run. It is a marathon, and at the end, the children are successful. The best thing we can do is keep working hard.”

Baranov taught at Kate Shepard before coming to Hutchens 10 years ago. Her philosophy in teaching is to build relationships and then to encourage students to work together as leaders and problem solvers. She plans innovative and exciting math lessons that allow students to be facilitators of their own learning. She is passionate about teaching her students how to have mathematical discourse in her classroom to allow better understanding of math concepts.

Baranov’s commitment to being a lifelong learner is evident in her participation in professional learning communities and curriculum development for MCPSS. Along with her role as a teacher, she serves on the National Board Certified Teacher steering committee for the district and as a mentor to potential candidates. Nicole has a B.S. in elementary education and a reading specialist master’s degree from the University of South Alabama. She is a National Board Certified Early Childhood Generalist.

“She’s dynamic in what she does every day. She is so deserving of the award, and we are honored to have her,” said Hutchens Principal Kathy Gallop. “Ms. Baranov builds great relationships with her students and with her parents. She puts in a lot of intentional planning daily for her kids based on what their specific needs are. She does a lot of hands-on learning where they use manipulatives. She’s always striving to learn new things for her kids. She is a National Board Certified Teacher, so she understands the why behind everything she does.

“She is known in our community as being one of the very best.” 

The PAEMST - given to teachers from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories - recognizes teachers who have both deep content knowledge of the subjects they teach and the ability to motivate and enable students to be successful in those areas.

Awardees reflect the expertise and dedication of the Nation's teaching corps, and they demonstrate the positive impact of excellent teachers on student achievement. The National Science Foundation administers PAEMST on behalf of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Nicole Baranov's classroom