By Garrett Smith
OXFORD, Ohio - Former Miami track standout David Bonner ('02 BS, '04 MS) was recently honored by President Barack Obama with the 2011 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), an honor bestowed upon just 97 teachers nationwide.
Bonner, who is currently a physics teacher in the suburbs of Chicago at Hinsdale South High School, ran track for the RedHawks from 1999-2002. His name still sits in the eighth (3:12.31) and ninth (3:12.40) spots on Miami's 1600 (4x400) meter relay all-time top ten list from races during his junior season.
The Presidential Award winners received $10,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and were invited to Washington D.C. for an awards ceremony and three full days of professional development programs with the other award winners. Bonner says one of the best things he'll take away from the experience was his contact with the other teachers.
"The other teachers were amazing as well," Bonner said. "It was a big honor to be among the teachers. Talking to them you realize that their resumes were outstanding."
The trip included various visits with members of Congress and Administration. Although President Obama was scheduled to meet with the honorees on June 29, he had to be called out for an emergency visit to the site of the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs. The group still got to meet with several notable names however, including Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, and the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.
Bonner spent four years in Oxford as an undergraduate student studying physics before deciding to stay for two more years to get his master's degree in adolescent science education. Bonner remembers those six years in Oxford fondly.
"Miami was all of my education before I became a teacher," Bonner said. "The big thing was research. Miami is big on getting their undergraduates involved in research and that was huge for me. That's when I really started to develop a love for science."
In addition to teaching, Bonner now coaches girls track and boys football at Hinsdale South, and says his time on the Miami track and field team under head coach Warren Mandrell really shaped him into the person he is today.
"Being a student-athlete is a tremendous character building opportunity. It really keeps you focused," noted Bonner. "It forces you to be more responsible, to make the right choices and really just to be a leader. I think that was the big thing, you keep your mind on what's important, not on the distractions that are very common in college life."