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FORT STOCKTON, Texas -- The math and science education partnership between the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) and Fort Stockton Independent School District has paid off for the district’s students -- and now for two of its employees, as well. At the 2005 Annual Conference for Advancement of Science Teaching, Apache Elementary School’s Ruth Alexander, a second-grade teacher, and principal Lupe Franco were honored by the Science Teachers Association of Texas. Alexander was named Outstanding Elementary Science Teacher of the Year for her excellence in science teaching, and Franco was named Outstanding Elementary Administrator of the Year for her support of science education. Fort Stockton ISD participated in the TEES-administered Texas Rural Systemic Initiative (TRSI), a National Science Foundation-funded project aiming for high quality math and science education for all students in participating rural Texas school districts. With leadership provided by West Texas A&M University, TRSI affected math and science education in 88 rural school districts in 56 Texas counties. More than 90,000 students were affected by this project, with a strategy of "learn, implement and share" targeted at K-12 teachers, administrators, parents and community members of the school districts. As a TRSI teacher partner, Alexander is part of a select group where she learns new skills to use in the classroom to improve student learning and achievement. She implements these skills in the classroom and shares her knowledge with other teachers in her district. Franco, honored for her support of science and math education at the elementary level, said, "With TRSI’s help, our district has continued to move forward in the areas of math and science. I feel it is vital that we begin science education at the primary level if we expect our children and our country to be able to compete in this technological world in which we live. "Traditionally science education has been treated lightly at this level. We are striving to give our children an edge by incorporating an extensive science curriculum beginning in kindergarten." Judy Kelley, executive project director of the Rural Systemic Initiatives in Texas and associate director of the TEES regional division at West Texas A&M University, said she was pleased at the recognition. "This is just a real testament to Fort Stockton ISD’s commitment to promoting high-quality science and math education," Kelley said. "These two individuals are to be congratulated for the great work they do in their district to improve science education. During the time TRSI has worked with Fort Stockton ISD, we have been excited by the increased commitments of administrators and teachers to improve science education for all their students across grades K-12." This isn’t the district’s only teacher success, either. In 2002, Fort Stockton High School science teacher Diana Carpenter was named the Outstanding High School Science Teacher in Texas. Kelley also pointed to the importance of recognition for outstanding science education in rural districts. "Many times these kinds of awards are given to teachers and administrators in large districts. It is very encouraging to teachers and administrators in rural districts to see statewide recognition for individuals who work in schools like their own."