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Oak Park Teacher Wins Presidential Award


OAK PARK — Oak Hills Elementary School teacher Sandy Hindy was about to start a math tutoring lesson at home Wednesday when a Federal Express employee holding a thin envelope knocked at the front door.

The return address said Executive Office of the President. Hindy quickly tore it open and was stunned.

"I'm at my front door and it's Valentine's Day. I was dumbfounded, so I handed it to the student and had her read it and she said I won," the fifth-grade math teacher said Saturday.

Hindy, 54, has won the 2000 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. She is the only elementary math teacher in California to win and one of only 50 nationally to get the prize.

"Your exceptional talent, leadership abilities and dedication as a teacher are qualities that place you among the recipients of the nation's highest honor for mathematics and science teaching," wrote awards director Janice Earle.

A 17-year teaching veteran and published author of two books on women in history, Hindy of Westlake Village was nominated for the award several months ago by the Ventura County Mathematics Council, which named her its 1999 outstanding math teacher.

Because so much time had passed and the envelope was so thin, Hindy assumed it was a rejection. Instead, she learned she won a presidential citation, $7,500 and a trip to Washington, D.C., next month to meet other winners, political leaders and possibly the president.

Although Hindy has long been a favorite of students for her patience, she won because she makes multiplication, division, fractions and geometry understandable and fun, school officials have said.

She often uses an overhead projector to display games that teach math tables and computation shortcuts or a computer to help students analyze geometric shapes.

"I really believe all kids can learn math," Hindy said. "Everybody learns differently and some are auditory and visual and some kids need to touch and learn with their hands. I try and teach to all learning styles."

The award is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and applicants are screened by a national panel that makes recommendations to the White House.

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