Kitten Vaa, a second-grade teacher at the private Brighton School in Mountlake Terrace, was named Sept. 28 as one of six state finalists for the 2016 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. (Contributed photo)

School Winners (Oct. 10, 2016)

Brighton teacher a finalist for national award

Kitten Vaa, a second-grade teacher at the private Brighton School in Mountlake Terrace, was named Sept. 28 as one of six state-level finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

“This award is an honor. I am excited to share my learning around science and hope to ignite excitement for science especially at the elementary level,” Vaa said.

Vaa presents her class, which has 15 students this year, with science units that focus on meaningful learning around real-world phenomena that capture their interests.

An example is a study of the Moeraki boulders in New Zealand, a source of Maori legend and scientific curiosity. Rather than give the scientific answer right away, Vaa leads her class through testing their own theories and has them gather evidence as they work toward an explanation.

The Presidential Award program announces national award recipients in the spring. State-level finalists are recognized by regional and state math and science associations and invited to several annual state events.

Saudi students certified in cyber security

Two Edmonds Community College students from Saudi Arabia are the first international students in the United States to be certified as cyber security forensic analysts by the CyberSecurity Institute.

Ahmad AlMegren, 42, and Faraj Alqahtani, 39, traveled from Saudi Arabia to study information security and digital forensics at EdCC. Both are employed by Aramco, a Saudi Arabian oil and gas company, and work in the company’s cyber security investigation department.

After a year of study, Alqahtani earned an information security and digital forensics associate of technical arts degree. Between them, Alqahtani and AlMegren earned four computer information systems certificates, and 10 certificates in information security, digital forensics, and ethical hacking.

They returned to Saudi Arabia on Sept. 7.

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