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West Valley City Journal

Diamond Ridge teacher named finalist for Presidential Award

Jul 01, 2022 11:52AM ● By Liz Craker

By Liz Craker | [email protected]

Cheri Weske, a third-grade Diamond Ridge Elementary teacher, has been named a finalist for the 2022 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), and she is one of five Utah teachers announced as a finalist. This recognition is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government specifically for K-12 science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teaching.

Weske and the other Utah candidates will now be reviewed by a national selection committee, which will select two individuals among the finalists to be named the 2022 Utah Presidential Awardees.

Weske said she was nominated for the program by a previous mentor who was also a recipient of the award. “I have always admired her and learned so much from her. It was such an honor not only to be nominated but also for the nomination to come from her knowing that she had won this award. I was so touched by her nomination,” Weske said.

Weske explained that upon nomination, she had several educational requirements that she had to complete to continue through the application process. She had to obtain three letters of recommendation as well as employment history verification. Weske also was required to submit a resume and a 30-minute video of a teaching session with 12 pages of reflection writing on the video. “This is so the award committee can see my teaching and how I interact and engage with students,” she said.

The reflection writing included several topics to show that the lesson was content appropriate, used effective instructional strategies and provided diverse learning approaches. In addition, the lesson reflection had to show that Weske’s teaching improved student achievement and encouraged students to be lifelong learners.

Her submission portfolio also had to outline her school level, district level and community leadership and activities. Additionally, it included seven pages of supplemental materials of students’ math journals and pictures of their work.

Weske is also a National Board Certified teacher. “That was a huge two-year process with content tests and writing requirements. It was one of the most rigorous learning experiences in my life, and one of the best learning experiences of my career. Preparing the Presidential award portfolio was very similar,” she said.

Weske earned her bachelor’s from the University of Utah and her master’s from Southern Utah University. She also has a gifted endorsement as well as STEM, coaching and math endorsements.

“I have spent my whole 22 years getting more education and have never stopped learning,” Weske said.

Weske also is a mentor to other teachers, which she says encourages her to gain these skills and certifications. “I can't expect the teachers I mentor to do this if I don’t do it myself,” she said. “It is such a great developmental opportunity and a very reflective process.”

She has been teaching in the Granite School District for 22 years with a majority of those years in the third grade. This fall she will transition to a new position as District math interventionist at Woodrow Wilson and Jackling elementary schools.

“My motivation wasn’t to win but to expand on the reflective process. I was completely shocked to be named a finalist,” Weske said. “I have come full circle and can help other teachers and mentor them the way I have been.”