A Central Heights Elementary School teacher was named a 2018 state finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching during a special ceremony Monday at Exploration Place in Wichita, a Kansas State Department of Education official said.

Sarah Rand was one of three finalists for mathematics. The other finalists are Angela Knapp, Pray-Woodman Elementary School, Maize, and Marcia Mueller, Bentley Primary School, Halstead.

 The state finalists for science are Monica Dreiling, Lincoln Elementary School, Hays USD 489; Betsy Lawrence, Eudora Middle School, Eudora USD 491; and Zerrin Oelze, McLean Science/Technology Magnet, Wichita USD 259.

Elementary and secondary educators are recognized in alternating years. This year, elementary educators are being recognized. Kansas had 12 mathematics nominees and 13 science nominees. Nicky Harris, Ottawa Middle School, was a nominee for the award.

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching are the nation’s highest honor for mathematics and science teaching, an education official said. They are presented to educators who show a high degree of knowledge, innovation, skill and leadership.

Each of the state finalists received a $500 cash award and advance to compete for a national finalist title. Two educators from each state, one in the area of mathematics and one in science, may be named national finalists. Each of the national finalists will receive a $10,000 award.

The awards ceremony took place in conjunction with the Kansas Excellence in Math and Science Teaching Conference, a two-day event that took place Monday and Tuesday at Newman University in Wichita.

More than 260 science and math educators from across Kansas attended the conference, which featured math and science presentations and workshops delivered by leading Kansas educators.

The conference was sponsored by Westar Energy and Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation.