Nevada Department of EducationNevada Department of Education

Two Nevada Teachers Named State Finalists for PAEMST Award

June 14, 2024 CARSON CITY, Nev. – Two Nevada teachers have been named state finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

The recipients are Sarah Roggensack, a third-grade teacher at Van Gorder Elementary School in Sparks, and Adrienne Wiggins, a K-5 computer science teacher and STEM coordinator at Empire Elementary School in Carson City.

Both educators were recognized this spring during school ceremonies.

“Sarah and Adrienne are exemplary educators who are more than deserving of this prestigious national recognition,” said Jhone Ebert, Superintendent of Public Instruction. “They are leaders and role models, serving as shining examples of the many talented computer science and STEM teachers we have here in Nevada.”

The PAEMST is the nation’s highest honor for science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and computer science teachers.

The awards program is administered by the National Science Foundation on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

A national committee recommended up to 108 teachers from across the country to receive PAEMST awards.

Honorees each receive a $10,000 award, presidential certificate, and trip to Washington, D.C.

More About the Recipients

Roggensack is in her 22nd year of teaching. She has worked for 19 years in the Washoe County School District.

“I went into it because I love the kids, I love those ‘aha’ moments, and I love the idea of being that person who opens gates to children’s futures and awakens them to the possibilities that are out there in the world,” Roggensack said. “And I do very much feel that mathematics is the big gate opener for children.”

Roggensack is a highly skilled and dedicated third-grade teacher who prioritizes student engagement and active learning in her classroom, said Sean Whisler, principal at Van Gorder Elementary School.

“She ensures that her students do the ‘heavy lifting’ during lessons, meaning they are actively involved in making sense of mathematical concepts rather than passively receiving information,” Whisler said. “This approach helps students build strong mathematical skills and deep understanding.”

Roggensack earned a dual bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education, and a master’s degree in elementary education with an emphasis on STEM education – all from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Wiggins has been an educator for 20 years and has taught for the last 12 years at Empire Elementary School. She was a finalist for the 2023 Nevada Teacher of the Year award.

“As teachers, we need to be engaging with our students, so they see a purpose in what we are teaching them,” Wiggins said. “We need activity before content. Learning needs to be hands-on and relevant. That's what we are doing here in Carson City.”

Wiggins has been a leader and advocate for students for many years, said Andrew Feuling, superintendent of the Carson City School District.

“This recognition reflects her unwavering dedication to student success and her innovative approach to teaching,” Feuling said. “Wiggins’ commitment to fostering a love of learning and encouraging critical thinking in our students exemplifies the high standards of excellence we strive for in our district.”

Wiggins earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Nevada, Reno, and a master’s degree in education with a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) specialization from the University of San Diego.


About the Nevada Department of Education

The Nevada Department of Education (NDE) leads and collaborates with Nevada’s 17 school districts and the State Public Charter School Authority to advance educational equity Statewide. With offices in Carson City and Las Vegas, NDE oversees all pre-K-12 education in the State, working to achieve its mission to improve student achievement and educator effectiveness by ensuring opportunities, facilitating learning, and promoting excellence. Under the leadership of the State Board of Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction, NDE impacts the achievement of nearly half a million children and 30,000 educators. Learn more at and join us on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook and Instagram.

Julie Wootton-Greener

Public Information Officer