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"Educate to Innovate" award winner Susan Finn Carter '95, left, poses in the East Room of the White House with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, fellow award winner Kay Riek, and Missouri Congressman W. Lacy "Bill" Clay.
By Erin Wood ’09
Susan Finn Carter ’95 was one of about 100 teachers to receive President Barack Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” award for excellence in teaching science and mathematics. Carter, now a kindergarten teacher at Glenridge Elementary School in St. Louis, was teaching second grade at Jackson Park Elementary School in University City, Mo., when she won the award. “Teaching is a vocation and a passion for me,” she said. “I work hard to make sure every child in my class gets my personal best each day. To me, teaching is the ultimate profession. To improve the world by any measure, you must start by impacting the education of its children.”
The application process involved submitting a lengthy paper and several videos, Carter said. “For the presidential award, I focused on a project involving fractions with a second grade class … I demand a lot of my students, as far as defending their thinking and thinking more deeply about how numbers work.” The award winners were selected by a panel of scientists, mathematicians, and educators following an initial selection process at the state level.
The educators were honored by Obama himself on January 6 in the State Dining Room in the White House, where the president joked about his daughters’ homework and the subjects they like in school, she said. “You could tell how much he cares for his children, and that probably has an impact on his education agenda,” Carter said. “The president made it clear that his administration is committed to education in an ongoing way.”
Carter said her degree in communication from Bradley has played a role in her achievements. “Being able to communicate clearly, address the appropriate audience, and craft a clear message are all aspects of my communication background that have contributed to my success.”
Carter earned a masters’ degree in teaching from Washington University. She and her husband Cameron live in St. Charles, Mo., with their three children.