Bak Science Teacher Tracy Smith Wins Presidential Award

Tracy Smith, an eighth-grade gifted science teacher at the Bak Middle School of the Arts has won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Teaching (PAEMST).

The PAEMST program, administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on behalf of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, recognizes outstanding teachers for their contributions to the teaching and learning of mathematics and science.

Smith flew to Washington, D.C., on Sept. 7 to attend an award ceremony, where she received a citation signed by President Barack Obama and a $10,000 award from NSF. Her visit also included a tour of the White House.

Smith, who lives in Palm Beach Gardens, has been teaching in Palm Beach County since 1989. She has been at Bak Middle School of the Arts for the past 18 years and won the George T. Elmore 30th Anniversary Award for Professional Excellence Dwyer Award in 2014.

“We’re very fortunate to have [Tracy] on staff. She does so many wonderful things with the kids. She’s an out-of-box thinker,” Bak Principal Sally Rozanski said. “She just loves teaching, and the kids love her. It’s a hoot to go into her class.”

For Smith, teaching science is especially gratifying.

“These kids make me laugh every day. I love to watch the light bulbs go off, and love to watch them talk like scientists,” Smith said. “I will turn each and every one of them into a science nerd when they’re done.”

For information about this year’s presidential awardees, or information about the annual nomination and application process, visit