Siena Alumnus Wins Presidential Award

Siena Alumnus Wins Presidential Award

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Siena alumnus Daniel Mattoon ’03 was recently awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) at a special visit to the White House. The award is given to outstanding kindergarten through twelfth grade science and math teachers from across the country. Winners of this award receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation.

Mattoon graduated with a bachelor’s degree in both Computer Science and Mathematics from Siena. Currently, he works at Niskayuna High School teaching Geometry, Multivariable Calculus, Computer Science II and Advanced Placement Computer Science to several grades. 

During his time at Siena, Mattoon was able to receive guidance and mentorship from several Siena professors. Although it wasn’t until January of his senior year that he realized he wanted to be a teacher, Mattoon was still greatly impacted by the professors he worked with at the College, both as academic mentors and models of teaching.

"In the computer science department, I was able to see excellence in teaching from Dr. Flatland, Dr. Egan, and Dr. Vandenberg. Their style in teaching where we explored concepts was something I try to emulate.  In the mathematics department, Dr. Kenney and Mr. Matthews were instrumental in building the foundations I needed to be a math teacher.  To this day, I attend workshops by Jim Matthews and look forward to his energetic personality.  Excellence in teaching extends outside the science department.  I had wonderful professors in the humanities, one in particular, Dr. Mahar from history, was phenomenal."

After finishing his degree at Siena, Mattoon attended Union College where he earned his teaching certification for grades 7-12 mathematics and became a National Board Certified Teacher in mathematics for adolescence and young adults. Mattoon has now been an educator for 11 years. 

“The most rewarding part of my job is that I have a real impact on my students.  My favorite part occurs when I am teaching geometry and I can ‘see the light bulbs’ turn on above their heads,” Mattoon said. “It is so exciting when a student that may have not liked math in the past tells me that they understand the concept and love coming to my class.”

This fall, he was awarded the PAEMST in Washington D.C. where he seized the opportunity to attend professional development sessions, including topics such as the direction of the future of STEM classes. He learned about initiatives the federal government has issued, including coding for all students, and also spent time collaborating with his fellow teachers, gaining new ideas for his own classroom.

“The Presidential Award is a testament to the effect every student and educator had on shaping me into the teacher I am. Achievement of this award is a credit to the hard work from my students and my passion for teaching mathematics,” Mattoon said, “This award opens up opportunities for me to grow and challenges me to strive for even higher excellence in my teaching. Without the support of my wife Elizabeth ’03 and my son Bradley, this award would not be possible.”