Math teacher wins award for distinguished teaching

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By Kate Emmanuel, Staff Reporter

Department Chair of the Mathematics Department and CHS math teacher Paul Poiesz recently received the Edith May Sliffe Award for Distinguished Teaching in Middle School and High School. The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) presents the Sliffe Awards to math teachers who have driven students to perform in an MAA American Mathematics Competition (AMC). To be considered for the award, one must be nominated by two individuals such as students, parents or colleagues.

Twenty winners are selected from around the country each year as Sliffe Award recipients. Winners are chosen based on four categories: improvements in students’ AMC scores, an increase in the number of students participating in the competitions, an increase in the number of students who have gone on to participate in the invitational competitions and efforts to encourage students to pursue mathematical training outside the classroom.Poiesz was shocked when he found out that he had not only been nominated, but also won the Sliffe Award.

“It was a complete surprise,” Poiesz said. “I had no awareness of it whatsoever. Those kinds of surprises in these times are particularly nice.” 

In addition to receiving recognition, Poiesz earned the opportunity to attend an all expenses paid trip to the MAA MathFest 2021 in Sacramento, California. The conference is held annually in August and consists of the teachers who won the Sliffe Award that year, in addition to others who were nominated. 

As a math enthusiast, Poiesz teaches AP Calculus BC and Multivariable Calculus to students of all grade levels at Conestoga. Poiesz’s success is not only a culmination of his hard work, but also the dedication of the enthusiastic students who compete in the math competitions.

“Being willing as a student to put yourself on the line and be like, ‘Okay, I’ll do the best I can and I’m willing to see how I measure up (to other students), knowing that I shouldn’t have perfection on my mind’ is good.” Poiesz said. 

Poiesz plans to continue using past teaching methods that have been successful in order to continue connecting with his students.

“Hopefully, number one, I’ll continue to be myself, which I think is a key to my success since I’m able to let my personality come out in my teaching of mathematics. That’s where long term bonds and relationships are formed,” Poiesz said. “I also try every year right before the winter break, in terms of the students graduating and staying connected, to have some graduates come back and talk to my seniors, particularly in my Multivariable classes.

Poiesz won this award due to his unwavering love for teaching at ’Stoga these past 24 years. He notes that everyone he has encountered on his journey has helped him to become the teacher he is today. 

“I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had at Conestoga High School. The students are obviously a huge part of that, as are the other people that I work with. The Math Department is a tremendous group of people who are always supportive of each other, and I really think that filters through to our students.”


Kate Emmanuel can be reached at [email protected]