MCPS Teacher Wins Presidential Math Award

James Schafer, a Montgomery Blair High School physics teacher, has been selected as a recipient of the 2015 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

James Schafer PHOTO | PAEMST

James Schafer

He is one of just 108 winners from across the nation and one of two from Maryland, according to a White House news release.

The PAEMST program, administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, recognizes outstanding K-12 teachers for their contributions to the teaching and learning of mathematics and science.Winners were selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators following an initial selection process at the state level.

Schafer was the 2010-2011 Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Teacher of the Year.

Mike Winer and James Schafer

Mike Winer and James Schafer

Schafer has taught physics at Montgomery Blair for 13 years. He currently teaches magnet freshman physics, advanced placement physics, and Quantum physics. He began his teaching career at Blair in 2002, where he taught multiple levels of physics, ranging from introductory 9th grade conceptual physics through advanced placement (AP) classes. Schafer has developed, modified, and updated curriculum for unique courses such as Thermodynamics and Quantum physics.

He also sponsors the school’s physics and quiz bowl teams and is a founding member and organizer of Puzzlepalooza, an annual puzzle competition. He encourages students to become engaged with STEM through his efforts with Final Frontiers, a competition focused on exploration and design related to space.

One of Schafer’s students, Mike Winer, was named a 2015 Intel Science Winner in March. MyMCMedia interviewed Winer and Schafer in “Meet Michael Winer, Intel Science Winner and Senior at Montgomery Blair High School.

Each PAEMST awardee will receive a citation signed by President Obama and a $10,000 award from NSF. They are also invited to Washington, D.C., for an awards ceremony, and participate in educational and celebratory events, and visits with members of the Obama administration.

Since 1983, the PAEMST program has recognized more than 4,300 teachers for contributions in the classroom and to their profession, according to a White House news release Awards are given to mathematics and science (including computer science) teachers from each of the 50 states and four U.S. jurisdictions. For more information on the PAEMST program, visit

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Krista Brick

About Krista Brick

Krista Brick is a multi-media journalist with Montgomery Community Media.


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