Northeast Tarrant

Teacher’s love of math and teaching adds up to presidential award

Wendy Hendry loves teaching kindergarten at Bransford Elementary School in Colleyville.

“My heart is with the young children,” said the longtime educator with Grapevine Colleyville school district.

Her passion has garnered national attention.

Hendry is one of 102 mathematics and science teachers named by President Obama as recipients of the prestigious 2012 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“I’m amazed. I’m in shock,” said Hendry, who noted that her colleagues are just as deserving.

Hendry initially was one of six selected as Texas representatives — she won for math and Kent Page, a San Antonio teacher, won for science.

“Math and science have never been more important than they are today,” said Texas Commissioner of Education Michael L. Williams in a news release. “As the son of a master math teacher, I know firsthand the challenges that lay before these wonderful teachers. I wish to express to them how proud we are of them and congratulate them on a job well done.”

Hendry will receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation to be used at her discretion and an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the White House awards ceremony and several days of educational and celebratory events, including visits with members of Congress and science agency leaders.

“I’m going to put the money into savings,” Hendry said.

The award is given annually to outstanding K-12 science and mathematics teachers from across the country. The winners are selected by a panel of scientists, mathematicians and educators following an initial selection process done at the state level. Each year the award alternates between teachers teaching kindergarten through sixth grade and those teaching seventh through 12th grades.

The National Science Foundation administers PAEMST on the behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

“These teachers are inspiring today’s young students to become the next generation of American scientists, mathematicians and innovators,” President Obama said in a news release. “Through their passion and dedication, and by sharing their excitement about science, technology, engineering and math, they are helping us build a promising future for all our children.”

Bransford Principal Sarah Hodges lauded Hendry’s accomplishment.

“She has a great knowledge of students’ developmental growth in the area of mathematics,” the principal said. “She has a lot of rigor and depth. She is extremely patient and has a calm demeanor, but she is persistent and will find a way to help children get what they need to know. She is an all-around teacher who shines.”

Hendry’s teaching career has concentrated on two schools, Bransford and Dove Elementary in Grapevine.

A 1994 graduate of the University of North Texas in Denton, she always enjoyed math. Even so, she said, “It never came easy for me.”

So in teaching young students, Hendry took that experience into account. She enjoys watching youngsters who can easily make the connection necessary in mathematics and just as happy when she “secures and grounds those who aren’t making that connection.”

Hendry teaches “concepts and skills they need to know for problem solving — what it took to get the answers. I help them take what they know and build upon it.”

The 54-year-old educator said math is one of many facets of her students’ education — which includes social sciences, reading and writing. She enjoys teaching all of them.

Added the mother of two and grandmother of five “with a grandson on the way,” says she wants “to instill the love I have for learning.”

Her 21 students were thrilled she won an award, even if they didn’t quite comprehend its ramifications.

“Kids that age understand that an award is exciting,” Hendry said.