Walton County School District announces 2020-2021 STEM Award honorees

press release from Walton County Public Schools

From left, Monroe Area High School principal Bryan Hicks, MAHS STEM teacher of the Year Jess Bush, Dr. Elmer Schwartzmeyer and Celeste Cannon, Director of 6-12 Curriculum and CTAE

(Monroe, Ga.) — The Walton County School District has announced its 2020-21 STEM Award honorees, recognizing Loganville High School’s Jacob Moore as STEM Student of the Year and Monroe Area High School’s Jess Bush as STEM Teacher of the Year.

The district’s STEM Teacher of the Year award program, made possible by the generosity and support of Dr. Elmer Swartzmeyer, was introduced in 2017 to recognize and reward Walton County high school STEM teachers that go above normal classroom teaching requirements to expose students to “real world” usage of a STEM discipline during the school year through interaction with business and industry. Continuing in his support of STEM education, Dr. Swartzmeyer endowed a $1000 student scholarship for the STEM Student of the Year beginning in 2019

Celeste Cannon, Director of 6-12 Curriculum and CTAE, with Loganville High School STEM Student of the Year Jacob Moore

Loganville High School graduate Jacob Moore has excelled in the world of STEM both in the classroom and in extracurriculars. As a student, Moore found success in both sports medicine and engineering. Combining his passion for healthcare and his engineering skills, Moore researched, designed and built a prototype for an expandable artificial heart valve that would eliminate the need for repeat heart valve replacements as patients grow. As a former member of the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) organization and robotics team, Moore successfully competed at region and state-level competitions in a variety of areas. In addition, he earned his scuba diving certification through the Extreme Science Club.

In his recommendation letter, Career, Technical and Agricultural Education Teacher Robert Silver said, “Jacob Moore is one of the best students I have encountered in a multitude of categories. Jacob is self-sufficient and determined in every task he takes on. . . . Jacob has acquired a large skill set and knowledge base from the rigorous class schedule he has set for himself over his high school career and he is always looking to expand on that. Jacob seeks out opportunities to learn and grow by doing his own research and then finding ways to apply it to class engineering projects ranging from woodworking to 3D printing and scanning techniques.”

With experience in both teaching and manufacturing, Monroe Area High School’s Jess Bush is uniquely able to develop a rigorous, skills-based STEM curriculum while providing firsthand knowledge of product design, tooling, production flow, quality assurance, supervision and safety in the field of manufacturing. Working in partnership with local industry partners, Bush has been instrumental in the development of a new Manufacturing pathway for high school students. The new program, set to begin in August 2021, has been developed to provide students with the most relevant, real-world-based education and opportunities possible that, in turn, provide businesses in our community with a strong pool of workforce candidates.

In addition to his classroom contributions, Bush has been successful in leading the Technology Student Association (TSA) at MAHS, winning first place in multiple events at both local and state competitions. As a statewide leader in education, he currently serves on the Georgia TSA Board of Directors.  

“Mr. Bush has transformed the engineering classes at Monroe Area High School into a model of modern practice,” said Principal Bryan Hicks. “By partnering with the Walton County School District, the Walton County Development Authority, and leading Walton County manufacturers, Mr. Bush has made great strides in the development of technology education that meets the needs of our students as well as employees of today’s modern manufacturing facilities. Because of the high expectations set by Mr. Bush, our students and school continue to improve at the state and national levels.”

STEM education is defined as a problem-solving, student-centered discovery approach to teaching and learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Students develop ideas and solutions to real problems and dilemmas faced in industry and research. A STEM-centered course or unit looks like the exact opposite of a traditional, teacher-centered classroom.

The Walton County School District serves around 14,000 students in 15 schools including nine elementary schools, three middle schools and three high schools. The mission of the Walton County School District is to ensure that each student acquires the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve personal success and enrich the community. The district values students as individuals with unique intellectual, physical, social and emotional needs. For more information, please visit www.walton.k12.ga.us.

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