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Chao selected as finalist for award, receives scholarship

Special to The Clinton Courier


Eastside Computer Science teacher Jana Chao has been named as a State Level Finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Technology (PAEMST). The PAEMST is the highest recognition that a K-12 educator may receive for outstanding science, technology, engineering, mathematics and computer science instruction in the United States.


Dr. Kevin Gaylor, state Science Content Director with the Mississippi Department of Education and Science Coordinator for PAEMST, presented Chao with the state finalist designation during a virtual celebration with the Mississippi Department of Education, as well as administrators and colleagues with the Clinton Public School District.


“I want to congratulate you on your good work, on your hard work,” Dr. Gaylor said. “I know your peers and colleagues are proud of you. It is no small feat to get elementary students to understand the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of science, especially at a time when teaching authentic science is so important.”


“I’m extremely proud of the dedication Mrs. Chao has shown in making computer science relevant and exposing students to the realm of computer science,” Eastside Elementary Assistant Principal Brittany Ricker said. “She’s been a pioneer for this program, and we are blessed to have her at Eastside.”


Clinton Public School District Superintendent Dr. Andy Schoggin echoed Ricker’s sentiments, saying Chao’s dedication and passion in the classroom sets her apart.


“On behalf of the Clinton Public School District, of the children and of the community, I wanted to say thank you to Mrs. Chao for her hard work,” Dr. Schoggin said. “She is very deserving of the Presidential Award of Excellence, because that is what she pursues every day in all that she does.”


In addition to the PAEMST recognition, Chao recently received a $1,000 graduate scholarship from the Mississippi Professional Educators (MPE). A National Board-Certified Teacher and resident of Clinton, Chao earned her Bachelor of Science degree from William Carey University and her master’s degree from Delta State University. A member of MPE since 2020, she is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in educational leadership at the University of Southern Mississippi.

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