Livingston Superintendent Dr. Brad Draeger delivered the keynote address at the 26th Annual New Jersey Technology and Engineering Educators Association Technology Conference and Expo on May 11. The Conference, “Technology and Engineering: Solving the World’s Problems,” took place at the in Newark.
Dr. Draeger spoke about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education, drawing from his own research and more than 30 years in education and his experiences as a student in the 1960’s. He shared with the audience some commonly perceived barriers to a STEM education – engineers cannot teach science and math; technology education and engineering are disparate and troublesome; colleges will not accept credits for high school courses called STEM – and yet there is a national call for new STEM teachers.
Draeger spoke with passion, emphasizing that great teaching transcends gender and overcomes society’s gender stereotyping. He reported that in an unofficial poll of other school districts, Livingston’s female enrollment in technology education class is 26.1% compared to the 12%, 13%, 14.3% and 16% reported by other districts. He attributed Livingston’s female enrollment to the FemGineers program at Heritage Middle School.
“The FemGineers provides an encouraging atmosphere and safe haven for females to explore the world of technology.” The bottom line, according to Draeger, “we don’t need acronyms for world class teaching, we just need great, passionate teachers who can reach every single one of our students.”
With the help of Jim Novotny, Technology Education Supervisor; Kenny Zushma, Heritage Middle School Technology Education teacher and Executive Director of the NJTEEA and other members of the Livingston Public Schools’ Technology Education Department; as well as Livingston High School senior, Josh Samuels, Dr. Draeger showed attendees how the Technology Education teachers in Livingston practice STEM in a 13 minute video presentation. The video presentation demonstrated how Livingston Public Schools builds its Technology Education program from the sixth grade formal introduction to technology through the high school and its culminating projects.
“As a member of the Livingston Public Schools faculty and Executive Director of NJTEEA, it was a proud moment for me; listening to Dr. Draeger deliver the keynote along with a video of the outstanding and well rounded technology education program Livingston offers its students,” said Zushma.