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Awards presented by the Mensa Education & Research Foundation

Wed, 27/11/2013
John Otterstedt - MERF

The Mensa Education & Research Foundation (MERF) have named John Otterstedt of Ridgewood, New Jersey, the recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Teacher Award. He is a third-grade teacher at Hawes Elementary in Ridgewood, N.J. Nominated by a fellow teacher, Michael C. Feeney. Otterstedt was described as “a dedicated and zealous educator who demanded — and got — the very best from his students.”

Otterstedt’s approach is anything but run-of-the-mill. He's known for subtly “tricking” his most-reluctant third-grade students into better expressing themselves through associative writing prompts, and he's even videotaped lessons for a student unable to attend classes due to health issues. Students who struggle in his class are given immediate and extensive attention, and communication between this teacher and parents is paramount. Mr Otterstedt’s commitment and dedication to his students is an example of what makes him a great teacher.

“We are honoured to present him the Distinguished Teacher Award,” said Mensa Foundation President Dave Remine. The Mensa Distinguished Teacher Award recognizes a teacher, professor or instructor at any educational level who has had an especially positive influence on the education or life of a Mensa member.



MERF have also named American Mensan Matthew Guggemos of Vallejo, California, the recipient of the 2013 Intellectual Benefits to Society Award. He received the award for developing an app that assists children on the Autism Spectrum improve their social communications with others. Guggemos is a licensed speech-language pathologist in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The app can help teach difficult communication concepts to children on the autism spectrum, as it incorporates a user's image to demonstrate target speech behaviours and it helps parents and teachers interact in meaningful ways with these children,” said Guggemos. Mr Guggemos partnered with Lois Jeani Brady, M.A., CCC-SLP to develop the innovative app.

We are very pleased to present Mr Guggemos with this award. His software program embodies the type of advancement we are proud to honour,” said Foundation President Dave Remine.

Mensa Foundation trustee, James Werdell presented Mr Guggemos with the award at the San Francisco Regional Mensa Monthly Gathering. The 2013 Intellectual Benefits to Society Award is given to a Mensa member whose innovative activities impact education programs for employees; client or business associate education programs; programs designed to educate the public; or intellectual research and development.


To find out more about the Mensa Foundation Awards, visit



For 40 years, the Mensa Education & Research Foundation has been a strong voice in supporting intelligence. The Foundation fosters the best and brightest through scholarships and awards, and encourages research and intellectual inquiry through the Mensa Research Journal and various Colloquiums.

Governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees, the Mensa Foundation is a 501c(3) organization (the American term for non-profit making) and is funded by support from American Mensa, Mensa members and other charitable donations.