The High School Technology program has been named the 2018-19 NYS Technology Education & Engineering Association (NYSTEEA) Program of Excellence. The award is the highest level award presented by NYSTEEA.
David Beard and Sean Keenan are the school’s technology teachers. They will accept the award at a ceremony on March 21 during the NYSTEEA’s 56th annual conference at the Museum of Science and Technology in Syracuse. Maine-Endwell will now represent New York in the International Technology Educators & Engineering Association’s Program of Excellence.
As Maine-Endwell’s technology program has grown over the years, so has it’s success. The teachers say that real-world experiences, along with constantly evolving program curriculum, hands on learning, and district support in valuing STEM, are contributing factors to its success.
“Students get to take what they learned in math and science classes and actually apply that knowledge to hands-on projects,” said Beard. “The courses we teach, for the most part, are rooted in college majors and jobs that exist.”
“Both Dave and I come from ‘real-world’ careers in industry,” said Keenan. “We know how certain technical and problem solving skills are used to solve real problems and create real products. Our students don’t just leave our programs ‘book smart.’ They can apply their knowledge through critical thinking and the hands-on skills they’ve developed throughout our courses.”
The teachers’ expertise has played a major role in the way the technology program at the HS has evolved. Both Keenan and Beard are STEM Master Teachers. They are connected to a network that provides them with access to best practices and new ideas they can bring to their students.
“Sean and I are constantly refining what and how we teach,” said Beard.
“We always refresh our program with new courses, new lessons, new software applications, new equipment, and so on," said Keenan. "We make sure we are using the latest software and tools industry is using. We don’t like ‘standing pat’ – we want to continuously improve and we both like learning new skills!”
Support from the district and the community has been crucial through the program’s evolution. Without that support, the program would not be the success it is today. Administration, the Board of Education, the generosity of Thomas Tull and the Tull Foundation, and our community partners, all help move the program forward. “With this support, we are able to reaffirm that we are on the right track and keep striving for greatness,” said Beard.
So how does the program move forward in a world where technology is constantly changing? How do teachers prepare students for future jobs?
“With the increase in use of technologies like artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality, more and more jobs are going to require technical skills – and not just engineering or technical trades,” said Keenan. “ Everyone needs to be tech savvy to survive in the current and future job market and in society.”
It also comes down to basics. “Technology is ever evolving and is everywhere. Being able to adapt is crucial, especially in the information age,” said Beard. “One of our department’s fundamentals is to teach problem solving through the Engineering Design Process. This allows multiple answers to be formulated and filtered down until a workable solution is created. That solution is tested and refined until it works. Then the whole process starts over again to enhance it.
Some jobs are becoming very high tech and require the ability to problem solve. This basic skill will help all those involved."