Michael Rudolph, Science Teacher at Heritage, a Finalist for Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching

Michael Rudolph, a science teacher at Heritage High School, has been named a finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) for Colorado. He’s now moving on to the national level!

About PAEMST (taken from paemst.org)
The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) is the highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th grade science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. Up to 108 teachers are recognized each year.

Presidential Awardees receive a certificate signed by the President of the United States, a trip to Washington D.C. to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.

Getting to Know Mr. Rudolph
Q: How long have you been teaching in Littleton Public Schools? Have you always been at Heritage?
A: This is my 20th year at Heritage and in Littleton. It has been an amazing school to spend the majority of my career. I also taught for 3 years in Denver and for 2 years in Costa Rica.  

Q: What subjects do you currently teach? What have you taught in the past (if different)?
A: I am currently teaching AP Physics, AP Computer Science A, AP Computer Science Principles and a bunch of quarter-long STEM electives which include our introductory computer science and engineering courses. I have spent the majority of my time at Heritage teaching Physics - all the different levels. My first few years, I taught 9th graders and am happy to be back working with all ages through the STEM electives. 

Q: What piqued your interest in science subject areas?
A: I always enjoyed the intrigue of science in understanding how the world works. There are so many mysteries and problems still to be solved. The creativity of scientists astounded me on a daily basis. I also really enjoy the problem solving that is so important for science. In my free time, I love solving puzzles and riddles and I feel like that is what we do in science. I had a great Physics teacher in high school who inspired me to study physics in college which led to me becoming a teacher eventually after a brief stint in software development.

Q: What do you hope to instill in your students as scientists (or as global citizens, etc.)?
A: The main hope that I have for all of my students is that they become confident in their ability to solve any problem that comes their way and that they become more curious about this amazing world that we live in. I want all of my students to become lifelong learners and find true joy in learning and pushing their personal boundaries.

Q: If you are selected as an awardee, what will you do with the $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation?
A: It is funny that I haven't really even thought about what I would do with the prize money. It seems abstract at this point, but I imagine that we would try to do something special like a family vacation or do something that we would normally not be able to do. I have thought a lot about the potential trip to DC to meet the president and I cannot wait to share that with my family.

Q: What hobbies do you like to pursue in your spare time?
A: If I am inside, I am normally doing puzzles or reading. I also love being outside - running, hiking, biking or gardening. I spend as much time outside as I can. My happy place is definitely in the mountains.  

Q: What does being selected and possibly winning this award mean to you?
A: After I was nominated, I decided to apply because it would force me to reflect on what I do as a teacher. It was actually a really good process because I stepped off of the daily treadmill and took a broader look at what I do as a teacher. I am competitive and wanted to win. I was obviously very happy when I got the news that I had been selected as a Colorado finalist, but ultimately this was really more about the process and reflection than winning the award.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like our community to know about you?
A: I love our community. The love and support in our community makes Littleton a wonderful place to live and teach. I feel blessed to have spent my career here and to have raised my daughter here.