Tomball ISD Teachers Named PAEMST Finalists

AUSTIN - Honored for their ability to inspire students through deep content knowledge and showcase high-levels of learning, Timber Creek Elementary kindergarten teacher Desirae Harcrow (Math) and Creekview Elementary fifth grade teacher Kelli Abueita (Science) were two of six teachers in the State of Texas named PAEMST Award Finalists, announced by the Texas Education Agency.

The 2020 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) is the highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th grade science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States.

Both Tomball ISD teachers, Harcrow and Abueita, go above and beyond for their students with innovative thinking and learning and for that, they are recognized among the elite in math and science.

Texas PAEMST State Finalists:


  • Desirae Harcrow - Tomball ISD
  • Kristen Butler - Northwest ISD
  • Kassidy Wagner - Prosper ISD


  • Kelli Abueita - Tomball ISD
  • Hannah Cotten - Austin ISD
  • Lori Garrett - Dumas ISD

Desirae Harcrow, a kindergarten teacher at TCES, was recognized as a Math finalist. 

“Desirae Harcrow is the consummate professional educator,” Timber Creek Elementary Principal Lauren Thompson said. “She is an innovative, dedicated and reflective teacher leader and is beyond deserving of this recognition. We are so proud that she calls TCES home and we know that she will continue to model teaching excellence for our students and staff in the years to come.”

“Desirae creates a welcoming, student-centered environment that incorporates fun and engaging math games to include all students in the learning,” David Surdovel, Tomball ISD Director of Math said. 

Kelli Abueita, a fifth grade teacher at CES, was recognized as a Science finalist.

“We are so proud of Mrs. Kelli Abueita for being selected as a PAEMST finalist,” Creekview Elementary Principal Bianca Shaughnessy said. “Kelli is a humble and hardworking educator who always ensures high levels of learning for all students. She thoughtfully designs instruction to promote engaging hands-on science learning opportunities. We are honored to have her as part of our Creekview Family!”

“Kelli is an amazing teacher and definitely deserves this honor,” Jennifer Adams, Tomball ISD Director of Science said. “I am always impressed with the way she uses inquiry based activities that make students think. She is passionate about science and incorporates real-life connections to elicit that same passion for learning in her students.”

2020-2021 marks the third straight year Tomball ISD educators have been recognized by the State of Texas as PAEMST finalists. Allison Bearden, Amy Edmondson and Markaela van Putten were all named finalists over the last two years.


PAEMST is considered the highest recognition a math or science teacher may receive for exemplary teaching in the United States. 

To achieve recognition through this program, a teacher first must apply to enter the competition or be nominated for the award. A state panel consisting of master teachers, content specialists, and administrators reviews the applications and selects the most outstanding mathematics and science teachers for the National Science Foundation to consider for national awardee status. 

For additional information about the PAEMST program, visit

Tomball ISD educates students to become responsible, productive citizens by providing innovative, individually rigorous, and personally valuable educational experiences. Founded in 1908, Tomball ISD now encompasses 83 square miles in northwest Harris County and southwest Montgomery County, and is located approximately 30 miles from downtown Houston. The district currently educates over 19,000 students at 21 campuses.