Photo shows Dr. Sowell assisting a student with lab work.

Darnell-Cookman educator receives Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Aug. 6, 2020 –Ask Dr. Scott Sowell what he loves most about teaching, and he’ll tell you, “it’s that small moment to moment interaction between me, the student, and the science content.”

The 26-year educator who teaches advanced placement environmental science at Darnell-Cookman School of the Medial Arts is a recipient of The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

The award is the highest honor given by the federal government specifically for K-12 STEM educators, and Sowell is one of two educators in Florida to receive it.

“I was over the moon when I received the confirmation email,”  Sowell said.  “I mean, receiving anything from the Office of the White House is a reason to be excited. This award is a huge honor and I am incredibly grateful for it.”

Being recognized for great teaching is nothing new for Sowell, who was the 2012 Duval County Teacher of the Year. A veteran educator, Sowell has taught science education at the middle school, high school and college levels.

“Teaching is the most joyful thing I get to do,” he said. “Teaching takes time to learn but it’s purposeful.”

However, there was a time early in Sowell’s career, where the celebrated educator didn’t feel he was doing a great job educating. He said experienced teachers took him under their wing, mentored him and taught him how to be a good teacher, which is part of the reason why he pays it forward by mentoring new educators.

“Great teachers make other great teachers as we practice over time,” said Sowell.

In fact, Sowell was teaching a professional development class when he received confirmation he had won the Presidential award.

Presidential award recipients will receive a certificate signed by the President, a trip to Washington D.C. that includes professional development opportunities, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation. For more information about the Presidential Excellence Awards, visit:

Team Duval News has profiled Dr. Sowell before. Watch video below to hear the educator discuss what he believes is a key to student success.

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