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Alumnus Earns Presidential Award for Teaching Excellence

Sean Serafino, an adjunct professor, receives one of the highest recognitions by the U.S. government

Sacred Heart University Isabelle Farrington College of Education alumnus Sean Serafino, center, with his Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. With him are Michael Kratsios, deputy U.S. chief technology officer, and France A. Cordova, director of the National Science Foundation, sponsor of the award. (Photo courtesy of the National Science Foundation)

Sacred Heart University Isabelle Farrington College of Education alumnus Sean Serafino, who teaches third grade at Monroe Elementary School, has received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) for Connecticut at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

“I was honored to receive the Presidential Award for Mathematics and Science Teaching,” said Serafino, who also is an adjunct education professor at SHU. “This is the most prestigious award an elementary science teacher can earn. I was happy for myself, but also grateful for the amazing students and colleagues that I have had the fortune of working with in Monroe since I student-taught there in 2004.”

Serafino is Monroe Elementary School’s technology integrator. He also sits on the district’s professional development committee and curriculum council, and he serves on his school’s data team.

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching are “the highest honors bestowed by the United States government specifically for K-12 mathematics and science teaching. The awards recognize those who develop and implement a high quality instructional program that is informed by content knowledge and enhances student learning,” according to the PAEMST website. Congress established the award in 1982; typically, 108 exemplary teachers are chosen for recognition each year.

Serafino accepted his award at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. He said he was joined by 103 other elementary teachers from across the nation. “We were all nominated for this award in 2016 and have been patiently waiting for two years,” he said. Each recipient received a citation and letter from President Donald Trump, which were bestowed by Michael Kratsios, deputy assistant to the president and deputy U.S. chief technology officer for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and France A. Córdova, an astrophysicist and director of the National Science Foundation.

Serafino, 35, of Stratford, said he toured the White House and met leaders from the National Science Foundation and National Science Teachers Association during his trip.

His fascination with science began when he was a child, he said.  “While I enjoy teaching all subject areas, science has always felt like a glue that holds all academic areas together. Students are so engaged by hands-on science learning. It works well to tie reading, writing and math into science content areas,” Serafino said.

Having earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2004, his master’s degree in elementary education in 2005 and his Sixth Year Certificate of Advanced Study in science leadership from SHU, he credits the University for much of his success.

“Sacred Heart gave me an amazing education,” Serafino said. “Between the knowledge I gained from my professors and the student-teaching and internship experiences, I went into my first year of teaching feeling thoroughly prepared to start my teaching career. The professors at SHU provided real-world, up-to-date instruction that prepared me for my own classroom. The sixth-year program changed my career. I gained the tools to transform my classroom in an inquiry-based, 21st-century learning environment.”

Serafino said that when he was hired as an adjunct professor in 2013, he was happy to share how his experiences as a student at SHU transformed him into a successful educator.