President Obama Honors FAU Alumna for Her Teaching

Robin O'Brien ’14 recently earned the national Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

From left, Megan Smith, U.S. chief technology officer; Robin O’Brien; and France A. Còrdova, Ph.D., director of the National Science Foundation

By amy haycock | 9/1/2015

Florida Atlantic University alumna Robin O’Brien ’14 recently earned the national Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching from U.S. President Barack Obama. O'Brien, who earned an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from FAU, is currently a school district resource teacher. She plans and models curriculum and provides professional development to secondary mathematics teachers across the district.

“Teaching may be my second career, but was always my first passion,” said O’Brien. “What I had not realized when I began this journey, though, was that being a teacher makes me a lifelong student. The Presidential Award is validation and recognition for those teachers who reflect on their practice and strive to continually learn and improve upon it. I am honored to be considered part of such an elite group of educators. Trying to make mathematics useful and fun for my students is a joy to work at every day.”

O’Brien has been an educator for eight years, with her first six years at Royal Palm Beach Community High School and Seminole Ridge Community High School in Loxahatchee. While in the classroom, she taught a range of math courses from Algebra I to Advanced Placement Statistics along with tutorials on Saturdays and afterschool. To get the students out of their seats and working together, she used many activities, including algebra tiles and "chains" where students must link the next appropriate item to the last. O’Brien also initiated a summer precalculus program to increase AP Calculus completion and wrote curriculum to support remedial classes. She served as department chair for four years, a student council faculty advisor, and was honored by her students to be inducted in their National Honor Society chapter.

O’Brien received a B.S. in business administration from the University of Delaware and completed a post-baccalaureate education program at West Chester University. While teaching, she earned a Reading Endorsement and, in May 2014, completed a M.Ed. at FAU.