Making NHS proud: Math teacher David Ferris won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Math teacher David Ferris won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching


Photo by Dave Ferris

David Ferris poses for a photo in Washington D.C., holding his award.

James Simons, Features Editor

In October, NHS Math Teacher David Ferris won one of the nation’s highest honors for a math teacher.

Ferris has taught at Noblesville Schools for 37 years. However, when he interviewed for the position he didn’t even plan on getting the job.

“I came here to practice interview. My college recommended that you practice interview before you get serious,” Ferris said. “I didn’t know what I was doing, but a few days later they called and asked me if I wanted to come there. I didn’t have anything to compare it to so I was a little hesitant to say yes. But I thought ‘Hey, it’s an opportunity.’”

That unexpected opportunity, as well as decades of hard work, would turn into Ferris earning the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science

“I actually found out about a year ago.” Ferris said. “And they said I couldn’t tell anybody except for immediate family because they had to do an FBI background check and I could still lose it.”

Ferris said learning that about the award was an exciting moment, but one he would need to contain for nearly a year.

“It was really hard because I wanted to share that with people, especially the ones who helped me like mentors, and people who encouraged me. So I had to sit on this until October and then I could finally tell,” Ferris said.

Ten finalists from Indiana were selected for consideration for the award. Only two would go on to win. Despite being one of those ten, Ferris didn’t like his chances.

“I had already picked out my two winners, and it wasn’t me,” Ferris said. “I thought they were better teachers than me so it’s always surprising and humbling when somebody picks you out.”

The award earned Ferris $10,000 and a trip to Washington D.C.. Although he may be one of the winners of the nations most coveted award, he wasn’t always set on being a teacher. In fact, he didn’t choose a career in education until his sophomore year in college.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do so I took an introduction to education course, history course, I was in a lot of music courses,” Ferris said. “And in the education course 101, the professor told stories of being in school, stories of things that happened with students.  And somewhere in there is when I realized I want to be a part of those stories, of those schools, and I realized ‘I want to be a teacher.’”

That realization was the spark that led Ferris to a remarkable career, one he would reflect on during his trip to D.C.

“When I first got to DC it was a little emotional because I thought about everyone that helped me, encouraged me, welcomed me into teaching. Everything from parents to teachers that made teaching look like a great thing to do. And I thought about the teachers here [at NHS] when I was a naive little 21-year-old kid. They welcomed me and showed me the ropes and were very encouraging.” Ferris said. “A lot of people poured into [me] and it’s kind of overwhelming to think of all the people that I was really grateful for. So that was the emotion that I felt, the really amazing gratitude that I had for everyone in my life that helped me along the way.”