Highest STEM Award

Area Teacher Becomes One Of Only 117 Individuals Across America Presented With Top U.S. Award For Science And Mathematics Teachers/Mentors

Jessica Lauer Tilli, an area mathematics leader and Arcadia University alumna, was recognized by U.S. President Joe Biden with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). She's one of two teachers from Pennsylvania, and one of 117 from the U.S. and its territories, to receive the recognition. 

“The Presidential Award honors not only my contribution to mathematics, but that of my incredible colleagues who work tirelessly to ensure equitable experiences for students in our public school system,” Jessica says. “It represents the recognition of the work we do as educators to create access and joy for our students. I'm deeply honored to be part of a group of distinguished teachers who care and uplift our students by recognizing their brilliance and empowering them through rich educational opportunities.”

Jessica works as a math curriculum specialist for the Philadelphia School District, where she writes curriculum, provides professional learning for teachers and leaders, and leads the push to prioritize early mathematics. She worked previously at William M. Meredith Elementary School, where she taught middle school mathematics and science for seven years and served as the school-based teacher leader for five years, where she focused on improving mathematics instruction for kindergarten through eighth grade. 

She has volunteered for the past 13 years as a Students Run Philly Style mentor, training alongside students for races including the Philadelphia Marathon. She serves on the boards of Students Run Philly Style and the Urban Affairs Coalition. 

In addition to earning a master’s degree in education at Arcadia, Jessica earned a bacheolor's degree in psychology from Goucher College, and was a STEM fellow with the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently a doctoral student studying educational leadership at Temple University.

She's a certified elementary school teacher, and is certified in middle years science, social studies and mathematics.

“STEM teachers and mentors serve as powerful catalysts for developing the vast potential of our nation’s learners. PAEMST honors STEM teachers for the commitment they bring to classrooms,” the White House statement proclaimed.

Established in 1983, PAEMST is the highest award kindergarten through 12th grade mathematics and science (including computer science) teachers can receive from the U.S. government. Each year, the award alternates between kindergarten through sixth grade and seventh through 12th grade teachers. This year, the award went to kindergarten through sixth grade teachers.

“I am deeply appreciative of the inspiration that America’s teachers and mentors provide every day to support the next generation of STEM professionals,” President Biden stated. “The dedication these individuals and organizations have demonstrated to prepare students for careers in STEM fields, during what has been a difficult time for teachers, students and families, plays a huge role in American innovation and competitiveness. The work that teachers and mentors do ensures that our nation’s children are able to unlock -- for themselves and all of us -- a world of possibilities.”

The other STEM recipient from Pennsylvania was science teacher Kristin Joivell, with the Juniata Valley Elementary School in Alexandria.

At presstime, Jessica learned she also had received Arcadia University's 2022 Alumni Association Outstanding Achievement Award for exemplifying the values of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in her commitment to educational access. 

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