McHenry School District 15 recently competed as a finalist at the Future of Education Technology Conference for the national STEM Excellence Award.
The FETC is the largest independent technology conference in the country that focuses on the exploration of new technologies, best practices and pressing issues by thousands of districts, schools and educators.
Specifically, McHenry Middle School was showcased for its innovative science, technology, engineering and math and science, technology, engineering, art and math curriculum that has been designed for students in makerspaces inclusive of STEM labs, STEAM studios and video production hubs.
The school was named one of the top three finalists for the FETC STEM Excellence Award last month, and the winner was announced Jan. 30 at the conference in Orlando, Florida.
McHenry School District 15’s competing middle school faced off against two other finalists chosen from across the country: Mater Academy Charter Middle School of Miami-Dade County in Hialeah Gardens, Florida, and The STEM Academy at Bartlett in Savannah, Georgia.
On the last day of the conference, more than 20,000 educators from around the world gathered for the closing keynote presentation, where the STEM Excellence Award winners were announced. McHenry Middle School made it to the final two behind returning STEM Excellence Award winner The STEM Academy.
“As it came down to the final two schools and the names were about to be announced, our team all looked at each other and held our breath in hopes we would be the top selected middle school in the nation. It was an amazing moment for all of us that work in School District 15,” said Fred Laudadio, executor director of learning and technology for District 15.
In the end, McHenry Middle School was selected runner-up.
“We have many things to be proud of here at McHenry Middle School and in District 15,” McHenry Middle School Principal Mike Glover said. “At FETC’s STEM Excellence Awards, we added to that pride, where we were runner-up to an outstanding STEM Academy. We are second to none as a public school district when it comes to offering high-quality STEM and STEAM education for all of our students.
“McHenry Middle School and District 15 students are provided incredible academic and co-curricular opportunities every day. Now people across the country know that our STEM and STEAM programs are truly some of the best in the nation.”
Students and staff at McHenry Middle School worked hard the weeks leading up to the conference. They took to social media to develop a strong marketing campaign inclusive of inspirational ideas, videos and newscasts highlighting STEM excellence within their school.
“Our district is leading through innovation,” District 15 Assistant Superintendent Josh Reitz said. “We are providing students in McHenry with opportunities at a level that currently doesn’t exist in many communities across the country, and are very proud of that.”
District 15 Superintendent Alan Hoffman said, “I’m confident that we are winners in every sense of the word, and we should continue to be proud of the work we are doing every day in all academic areas and in our co-curricular activities as we continue to shape tomorrow’s leaders.”