Faculty Experience

Professor Meets Obama

Jason Crean Formally Received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Professor Jason Crean

Jason Crean, '96, '01, knows he isn't royalty. But the biology teacher surely felt like it when President Obama shook his hand, noted he was from Illinois and said his young daughters could benefit from his educational skills. 

The greeting and compliment by the nation's commander in chief was but one of many highlights during Crean's four-day trip in December to Washington, D.C., to formally receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

"Being nominated for this award was a true surprise and honor, especially being among so many talented, innovative educators," Crean said. "It was overwhelming and humbling. We just felt like we didn't belong there, getting an award for doing what we do every day." 

Crean, an adjunct professor of biology at Saint Xavier University, was one of 103 recipients of the award, which honors the best pre-college-level science and math teachers across the country. The award also includes a $10,000 grant.

Besides Obama, Crean and the other award winners met with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who praised their leadership abilities and asked them to mentor other teachers. They were feted by the National Geographic Society, the National Teachers Association, representatives from NASA, the U.S. Geological Society, scientists and government officials. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stopped by.

Crean received his bachelor's degree in biology in 1996 and his master's degree in education in 2001, both from SXU. He is a biology teacher at Lyons Township High School in La Grange and does research/service work for the Brookfield Zoo Conservation Biology Department's Genetics Lab. He won the National Association of Biology Teachers' 2009 Ecology/Environmental Science Teaching Award and the 2009 Drug, Chemical and Associated Technologies Association "Making a Difference" Award sponsored by the National Science Teachers Association.