Thursday, July 9, 2015

Northbrook High School Teacher Chosen as a Finalist for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Jonathan Claydon, a calculus and pre-calculus teacher at Northbrook High School, is one of only 5 Texas math instructors chosen as a finalist for the 2015 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

The PAEMST award is the highest recognition a math or science teacher can earn for exemplary teaching in the United States. Teachers whose innovative methods bring life to the classroom may be nominated for this award, which is administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Claydon will now compete with four other Texas finalists to be named the state’s mathematics teacher of the year, and then compete for national award. The State Board of Education (SBOE) will honor Claydon and other finalists at a meeting later this year.

If he is selected as the Texas representative, Claydon will receive a $10,000 award from NSF, an expenses-paid trip for two to Washington, D.C., for award and professional development related events, as well as a signed certificate from the President of the United States.

A Friendswood High School graduate, Claydon went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Houston. He graduated from UH cum laude with honors and university honors in 2006.

He worked as an assistant project manager for several years in his field, but found that the office work wasn’t his life’s calling. “I was always a math type of a person, and I always did think that I would teach mathematics one day,” he said.

He has developed a unique approach to math education. “My students do not listen to lectures. My students produce something every day. My students do well because they know I believe in their ability to do well,” Claydon states.

Northbrook High’s Principal Randolph Adami hired him at a district job fair after he completed alternative teaching certification through a program then based at Spring Woods Middle School. Claydon challenges students, the principal said.

Lockers transformed into the "wall of calculus"
“There is a certain esprit de corps that comes with being in one of Mr. Claydon’s math classes. Whether students are working on cool projects incorporating multimedia productions or painting lockers in various schemes, Mr. Claydon’s classes learn and have fun doing it,” Principal Adami said in a recommendation letter.

Spring Branch ISD and Northbrook High have been perfect fits for the 31-year-old instructor. “Northbrook’s my home,” said Claydon, who speaks precisely about many topics.

During his six years at Northbrook High, Claydon also coached students in soccer at the middle and high school level. An early soccer player, Class of 2015 President Juan Arredondo said that he looks up to his former coach and math teacher.

“He is my role model. Mr. Claydon has influenced my life so much, and it goes beyond just the soccer field,” said Arredondo, an Advanced Placement calculus student.

When other students ask, he tells them to take Claydon’s math classes, which is rich in hands-on activities, like creating three-dimensional cube coordinate systems or learning how to use student calculator-based aides and shortcuts to enhance learning.

“My reply to them has always been the same, ‘Take the course with him. It’ll really help you both understand and fall in love with math.’ . . . It seems almost unanimous that everyone at Northbrook who has had the luxury of having Claydon for a class thinks he’s the best teacher they’ve ever had,” Arredondo said.

He added, “Claydon is the greatest teacher anyone could ever ask for, and he is the most deserving person for this award.”

Amy Houser, SBISD Lead iCoach in secondary mathematics, nominated him for several reasons.

“Jonathan is wonderful with students, and he relates well to them. He has created a notebook and grading system that allows students who have never felt success in math realize they are capable of achieving insight and understanding in higher mathematics,” she says. “Jonathan uses technology in interesting ways to bring math to life in his classroom, and he uses social media to share his teaching practices with math instructors around the world.”

In SBISD, Claydon has lead an effort to change grading methods for sixth through 12th grade to a feedback-based approach based on student notebooks. He’s also served as an Algebra I advisor to help with adoption of new methods, and he rewrote and tested new Algebra II curriculum.

Claydon created and updates a clearly written, compelling and well-designed blog, called Infinite Sums (, recognized by the popular social media and YouTube presenter Dan Meyer, who is well known for speaking about the marvels and meaning of real-world math.

To learn more, please visit:

Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching:

Infinite Sums blog updates by SBISD Calculus Teacher Jonathan Claydon:


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