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Two Utah teachers have won the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Vivian Shell, a math teacher at the Salt Lake Center for Science Education, and Jim Larson, a science and math teacher at J.E. Cosgriff Memorial Catholic School in Salt Lake City, are among 97 teachers nationwide to earn the honor this year. As winners, they'll get $10,000 each from the National Science Foundation and are invited to an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., later this month.

A panel of scientists, mathematicians and educators chose the winners. President Barack Obama announced them on Monday.

Larson, who left a career as a petroleum engineer to become a middle-school educator, has taught science and math at Cosgriff for eight years. His students often excel at science fairs, and he aims to show students that science is about everyday life, not memorization from textbooks.

Larson said Monday he's thrilled to win the award which, to him, represents the culmination of his transition from engineering to teaching.

"I'm really thankful for my teachers who sort of lit a fire in math and science for me, and I'm really happy to be able to pay it forward," Larson said.

Shell has taught middle and high school math in the Salt Lake City School District for 15 years and has worked to support students by creating a Girls' Math Club, a Math in the City project, Math Lab and an afterschool homework hall. She also worked to help students move from middle school to high school during a sabbatical.

"These teachers are the best of the best, and they stand as excellent examples of the kind of leadership we need in order to train the next generation of innovators and help this country get ahead," Obama said in a news release.

Learn more about the winners

O To learn more about the winners of this year's President Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching go to