Thank You, Teachers!

SparkFun is celebrating National Teacher Appreciation Week!

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National Teacher Appreciation week is May 5-9 and SparkFun is happy to join in!

We have the good fortune to meet and work with teachers in a wide range of settings all over America. On our National Tour we saw electronics and code being used in public and private schools, libraries, after-school programs, community centers and libraries. It’s exciting for us to see how each setting uses our resources and parts in a unique way.

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We’ve enjoyed our time working with teachers and students all across the country.

In an effort to recognize the long hours and hard work that educators put in, we’d like to mention some of the people we’ve met and how they are impacting their communities.

In central California we’ve had the pleasure to work with Pam Rickard. She works with students in Los Osos and is pushing new technology programs with Scratch, Processing and Ardublock. In addition, Pam runs summer programs in her area with Cal Poly.

On the other side of the country Tracy Rudzitis is working in the New York Public School system. Tracy’s students are programming Arduinos and building projects with Scratch and PicoBoard. Tracy’s classroom is a model Makerspace in her school with a 3D printer, circuit and crafting supplies, and a range of tools and options for building and exploring.

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Chicago has a fantastic community champion, Jackie Moore. Jackie founded LevelUp Youth Makerspace and she runs the Chicago Knights FIRST Robotics team. We met Jackie a couple of years ago, and her boundless enthusiasm and work in her community have been inspiring to us. We were fortunate enough to get to stop on tour this year and spend some time with LevelUp and look forward to another visit soon.

Close to home for us is Rob Hazelhurst in Castle Rock, CO. Rob’s high-school engineering program pushes all sorts of boundaries. Rob’s students are flying Quadcoptors with data-logging dash boards and Xbee communication. They are also regular attendees and tough competitors in Colorado’s Technology Student Association. Rob’s seniors tackled a remote-presence robot for a disabled student in their district this year and their tenacity has been fantastic.

Davis Mounger teaches at Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences. He’s been working in his classes with Arduino and is involved with a community water-quality monitoring project in the Chickamauga Creek watershed. Davis’s classes are working towards a monitoring system to wirelessly transmit data about water quality in areas affected by mine tailings and runoff.

Jaymes Dec is the Technology Integrator and FabLab Administrator at the Marymount school in New York. James’s programs have redefined Makerspaces as a teaching tool. The TED talk James gave in NYC in 2012 is a wonderful window into his world and his approach to teaching emerging technology in a project-based setting.

The iSchool in Manhattan is home to Christina Jenkins. Students in Christina’s classroom engage in physical computing, game design, computer science and comic book production. The intermingling of social topics and disaster response bring a whole new realm of learning into students' lives. Keep an eye on Christina’s students as they’re sure to be a new wave of innovators.

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Working with educators at the San Francisco Public Library.

Worcester Academy has a fantastic resource in Jason Epstein, Chief Information Officer at the academy. Jason has spearheaded efforts to bring a raft of new technology to his students. Worcester offers 3D printing, computer science and robotics to its students. We wish him the best and hope his work continues to pay off.

We can’t resist a shout out to two great Colorado educators. Bobbie Bastian has been doing amazing work at the STEM Launch School, part of the Adams 12 School District near Denver. Bobbie’s students range from elementary school to eighth grade. They’re using technology from eTextiles and Scratch with PicoBoard to Arduino. Bobbie’s students are strong competitors at Colorado TSA and we are proud to count them as fellow Coloradans.

Sarah Bloms has been force within the Saint Vrain School District and has redefined technical education in her district. Sarah was an early user of LilyPad and PicoBoard with young students in Firestone, CO. As Sarah’s influence spread, she was appointed as a STEM Coordinator in her district. We’ve had a blast seeing what happens in her classes and we’re grateful for the work she’s done to help students master new technology earlier in life.

As a means of showing our appreciation, SparkFun will be sending a care package to each of the educators we mentioned here.

This is a short list and we can’t thank all the teachers we work with enough. We know that we’ve just scratched the surface of great work being done in classrooms across the country.

Cheers to all the people working on behalf of our education system!


Comments 3 comments

  • Thank you for the shout out. My partner, Mike Milham, also deserves a shout out; he’s been doing some amazing work with our students using Arduino boards.

    I agree with sgrace’s comment about students first, and teachers second. I’ve learned a tremendous amount about electronics from SparkFun’s website and SparkFun’s great people like Jeff, Casey, Allison, and the many others in tech support. I’ve then tried to share that knowledge with my students, and coach them as they’ve done some very creative projects.

    I also appreciate SparkFun’s fast order processing! Finally, we’re excited about our partnership with SparkFun to introduce Redbots into our classroom next year as the platform for our robotics program.

  • We’re all students first, teachers second.

    As a nice gesture, everyone that knows a teacher should give them a call or mail them a letter this week saying, “Thank you.” It’s a thankless job and most teachers spend money out of their pocket to make sure their kids get the most out of what they’re teaching.

  • thanks for the shout out! I also agree with sgrace’s comment. In fact, it is my belief in life-long learning that motivates me to teach others. My desire is that they in turn become passionate about life-long learning and are inspired to teach others.

    LevelUP, which is totally run by volunteers, could not survive without other volunteer “teachers.” I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the volunteer “teachers” with whom I serve: John Moore, James Watkins, and Damien Blanchard.

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