SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – Wittenberg alumna Cathy Shambaugh ’81 embodies excellence in teaching, and her dedication to educating students recently garnered attention from President George W. Bush. The Sagamore Hills, Ohio, native was named a 2004 Presidential Award Winner, the nation’s highest honor for teaching in mathematics and science.
Shambaugh, a sixth-grade math teacher at Whitney Elementary in Strongsville, Ohio, was one of 95 elementary and middle school teachers from around the United States who were recognized for their devotion and dedication to teaching. Each awardee received a $10,000 gift from the National Science Foundation (NSF), an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education in various fields of science and engineering. Recipients are provided an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., courtesy of the NSF, for a weeklong series of events, including professional development activities and opportunities to meet with leaders in educational policy.
Part of the application process required Shambaugh to submit a videotaped lesson of herself teaching. She ended up taping several lessons, which she watched and analyzed to improve her approach to teaching.
“The most valuable part about this whole award experience is the chance it offered me to self-reflect,” Shambaugh said.
An elementary education major at Wittenberg, Shambaugh earned her M.A. in education at Kent State University. She enjoys working with children and said the most important and challenging aspect of her job is making material interesting and relevant.
One way Shambaugh has accomplished this is with a math club she developed nearly 17 years ago. She wanted to make mathematics more hands-on and interactive for her sixth-grade students. With more than 50 percent of her students participating in the club, students meet before school to build structures and work on a “problem of the week.” The goals for the students are to understand the underlying concepts of math, increase their thinking and reasoning, as well as their enjoyment of the subject.
While Shambaugh is entering her 25th year of teaching, not a day goes by where she isn’t eager to educate her students.
“I get excited because every year there is a new group of students who are excited about school,” she said. “I love the subjects I teach, and I love sharing my excitement with the kids.”
- Sarah Gearhart '06