All of my family and friends who went through the Kennett school system had at least one teacher who helped them become a better version of who they are today. These teachers came from all backgrounds including; Music, Guidance,History, and Languages.
When I came back to Kennett High School in 10th grade, they had me take two math courses (Algebra and Geometry) both with Mr. George Star. They didn’t trust my previous school that taught the British educational system yet, I got a real grounding in Math, which made sense as it is the foundation of the sciences and technology.
This is the early 60’s and my science classes were full of kids whose parents worked at the DuPont Experimental Station(Better Things for Better Living through Chemistry). You better believe we had great STEM teachers.
Math is the great foundation of the sciences and to me applied math was nothing less than Mr. Helker’s Physics class which I loved. It made so much sense(F=MA),until I got to college and learned about Quantum Mechanics. Applied Physics led me to Dr. (Big Don) MeKelvie’s Chemistry and of course,Applied Chemistry is nothing less than Ms. Stees’s Biology class.
Nancy Stees was the bane of my existence. She didn’t suffer fools well and biology with all the experiments made me feel like a fool. She was into the secretion of amino acids by lichens. At that time, I didn’t realize that applied biology was medicine or “life”.
This last year has made it pretty clear about who the heroes are in our country. Medical School enrollments are up almost 20% over last year-- they call it the Dr. Fauci effect. And if I were to do life over again, I would seriously consider looking at making sick people well or work on preventing illness as a career path, like my co-author of “The Story of Kennett” did, Joan Holliday.
I graduated in ’64 and went off to Penn State to become an Engineer. The next year Ms. Stees was honored by the National Association of Biology Teachers who named her the most outstanding biology teacher in Pennsylvania. Then,later she earned the award for Middle Atlantic Region, which I assume made her the best biology teacher in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Maryland and Delaware.
Today we need STEM. It is not just the Robotics Club, or the Society of Women Engineers but classes that provide a student insight to what they like and where they fit into the world of Technology.
Some of the STEM teachers at Kennett today who have gone the extra mile include Dan Folmar, Ron Phillips, Toby Chu, and Jennifer Schmalzbach.
2020 shows the importance of science and technology. Each home needs a computer, internet and an understanding of the science of how to stay healthy. This summer I was the Kennett Area Census Supervisor--90% of the training was done on line and 10% of my enumerator trainees didn’t have the technical skills or tools to train to do the job.
Kennett High School has Instruction Technology Coaches to build technology competence in all the students. In the past, we knew that our country needed to provide every person the skills of reading, writing and arithmetic and now we need to add technology to that skill set.
A friend that I exercise with on Saturdays has a grandson in a private school in Wilmington and I asked her how he was doing. She said he is actually in class and not dealing with any of this distance learning. I said,“You know, he is going to have to learn how to use technology for distance learning” and she said; “Well not when he is 7 or 8 years old.” I was sympathetic to that.
Educating elementary school kids online is tough. On the other hand, you would be surprised.I remember when my granddaughter, Sophia was six and she brought me my iPad and said; “Pop Pop, what’s your password?” I put it in and she went over to the couch and started playing with it. Now, she is not your average six-year-old, at 12 she wants to be a NASA scientist when she grows up and her room is full of telescopes and pictures of the stars and planets.
What in the world was she going to do with my iPad that I use for Facetime and emails? I went over to the couch and looked over her shoulder and to my amazement she was watching the movie Scooby-Doo. I said; “Sophia, How did you do that?” And she said, “I downloaded it from Netflix.” I said: “But I don’t have Netflix.” And she said; “I know, I used Mom’s password.”
Let’s thank the teachers at Kennett who are introducing this world of STEM to our kids and make sure that each and every kid has the skill set to participate in this rich high-tech world we are part of and that can bring a vaccine for a pandemic to market in less than a year.
Young girls do not have to think of Engineering as a boy’s job. School is also about helping a child understand where their unique peg fits in the hole of life. Let’s make sure the sustainable careers of tomorrow, which will require some level of technology competence, will be filled by the Kennett students of today.