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A presidential honor in math
SEB Middle teacher Patia Rountree receives an 'Award for Excellence'
Patia Rountree for web
Dr. Patia Rountree, a sixth-grade math teacher at Southeast Bulloch Middle school, stands with SEB Middle principal Donna Clifton, right. - photo by Special
    Southeast Bulloch Middle School sixth-grade math teacher Dr. Patia Rountree received one of the most prestigious awards in her field last week. Rountree was selected as the 2009 recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math Teaching for the state of Georgia.
    “The greatest thing about this award is the fact it validates all of the time and energy I have spent getting to where I am today,” said Rountree, who is in her 13th year of teaching.     
    “When I notified my parents of the award, they simply said they knew I could do it. Even my husband, Ben, wasn't surprised, telling me he knew the award was mine, because he sees how hard I work every day.”
    As part of the award, Rountree will go to Washington, D.C., for a week of activities, including meeting with President Barack Obama. Also, she will receive a $10,000 award from the main sponsor, The National Science Foundation, and other gifts.
    Dr. Lewis Holloway, Bulloch County Schools Superintendent, praised Rountree's honor.
    “For Patia Rountree to be chosen by President Obama is a great honor for her and our school district,” he said. “She's creative, energetic, and does what it takes to make sure all of her students learn. Patia Rountree is an outstanding example of the quality of teachers we have in Bulloch County.”
    Rountree graduated from Jefferson Davis High School in Hazlehurst. She credits her high school math teacher Teresa Johnston for her becoming a math teacher. When contacted, Johnston said, “Patia was one of those kids who always got it. Once she was done, she would help those students who were struggling. I'm not at all surprised that she won this award.”
    Rountree and her husband Ben, a pharmacist at Walmart, met at Trinity Baptist Church in Nevils, where they are members. The couple has a 4-month-old daughter, Ella Faith.
    Rountree is no stranger to awards. She was selected the Bulloch County Teacher of the Year for 2003, appointed to the National Teacher Leader Cohort Program in 2005, selected Japan Memorial Fulbright Scholar in 2006, and she was appointed to the Georgia Department of Education Teacher Advisory Board in 2007.
    Southeast Bulloch Middle Principal Donna Clifton said, “In my five years as an administrator, I can say she is one of the top teachers I have ever been blessed to have on my staffs. As a parent of a former middle schooler, I can tell you that my son Chase, who had her for sixth grade math, talked about nothing but Miss (Rountree) and how great she was.”
    Clifton continued, “One of the things that makes her so great is that she creates an emotionally secure environment for her students. None of them fear being ridiculed or laughed at for giving a wrong answer. Professional journals regularly comment on how important relationship-building and emotional security are for the success of the children.”
    Rountree has some special ways to motivate her kids. At the beginning of each year, she sets out a number line that goes all the way from zero to one. All year long, they explore the fractions and decimal points in-between. In addition, she and her fellow sixth grade math teacher Tracey Simons sponsor “Pi Night.”
    “Pi” is a number with infinite digits - (3.14…). The highlight of the evening, attended by hundreds of parents and students, is a competition to see who can remember the most digits. A student who actually had memorized three hundred of the digits holds the current record. Rountree and Simons also hold “Fantasy Football Draft Night.”
    According to Principal Clifton, about 150 parents and kids regularly show up for this event, sometimes dressed in matching football gear. Students select their team, spending upwards of $30 million on the team salaries.
    As the year progresses, they review the players' statistics (touchdowns, receptions, rushing yards, etc.) , calculating all the changes in the many fractions and decimal points that determine their individual player's standings in the league. They then award, or subtract points for each player's successful, or unsuccessful) performances.

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