Recognizing Ohio leaders in STEM education excellence

Last night,  we proudly awarded our first STEM Excellence Awards to four leaders from around the network. A teacher, a principal, superintendent, and advocate each accepted commendations for their dedication to improving education.

Read on to meet the 2018 winners.

Battelle Announces Winners of 2018 Ohio STEM Excellence Awards

COLUMBUS, Ohio (July 24, 2018)– The Ohio STEM Learning Network (OSLN) announced today the winners of the “STEM Excellence Awards,” a series of competitive awards that recognize outstanding teachers, leaders, and advocates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

The awardees were recognized last night during a reception for the 2018 Connections to Education Conference hosted by the Ohio Association for Career and Technical Education and OSLN. The network was founded in 2008 and today represents 55 STEM schools across the state. Battelle manages the Ohio STEM Learning Network as part of the company’s commitment to preparing the next generation of innovators.

Nominations were open to the public earlier this year. The OSLN team selected this year’s awardees from a field of more than 35 highly qualified nominees.

“Ohio’s national reputation as a place for innovative STEM education is built on the hard work of educators across this state,” said Aimee Kennedy, Senior Vice President for Philanthropy and Education at Battelle. “The awardees we recognize today each distinguished themselves in their schools, communities and our state for exceptional dedication toward delivering quality STEM education to every student in Ohio.”

This year’s awardees of the STEM Excellence Awards are:

Excellence in STEM Teaching Award
The Excellence in STEM Teaching Award recognizes a teacher who exemplifies integrated, STEM-infused teaching strategies and classroom innovation, and whose work has led to positive student learning outcomes. This awardee engages students in inquiry-based learning to develop creativity, teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills.

Amanda Gillespie is the 7th grade engineering teacher at STEAMM Academy at Hartford Middle School in Canton, Ohio.

If there was a word to describe Gillespie, it would be connector. She creates equitable learning communities in her classroom where students feel safe and like they belong. By doing this, the students are willing to share their thinking and ideas and develop meaningful relationships. She also connects her students to the real world. She works hard at finding opportunities for her students to partake in 21st century learning and experiences. For example, she recently connected a group of STEAMM girls with other girls from various middle schools and spent the day coding and talking to women professionals in STEM fields, discussing the importance of computer programming. Amanda also collaborates with the local hospital, Mercy Medical Center, providing an opportunity for students to participate in a program that connects classroom instruction to real life career pathways.

When she’s not teaching, Gillespie demonstrates her excellent communication skillsby writing grants for her school and has generated more than half a million dollars for her students. The money from these grants provided needed hardware and professional development during the transition to a STEAM school.

Excellence in STEM Leadership Award
The Excellence in STEM Leadership Award recognizes a school-level, district, or regional leader with a proven track-record of developing effective STEM programs. This awardee supports and encourages teachers and schools to   continually infuse STEM teaching strategies and embrace classroom innovation.

Melissa Drury has been the Principal at Summit Road STEM Elementary since 2014. Summit Road STEM Elementary is considered a research and development site and has been recognized as a national exemplar for elementary STEM education by the National Science Foundation.

Drury charged teachers and students to fine tune the delivery of core values such as collaboration, complex thinking, and communicating by publishing design thinking and the process of solving real world problems. This year, students were tasked with showcasing their learning through public exhibitions of student learning—a key element of strong STEM programs.

Through her leadership, Summit Road Elementary has a strong culture that values inquiry, design thinking, and problem solving. This culture begins with the selection of staff who are committed to the idea that being a part of a research and development site means being immersed in inquiry-based learning and living in the design cycle. Students and staff regularly use and hone 21st century skills and are actively engaged in the learning process. This past year, students worked on real problems such as preserving our national parks, helping other children around the world after the effects of tragic storms, staying engaged during inside recess, and educating our community about our natural wetlands and preservation efforts.

Drury’s leadership and impact at Summit Road Elementary goes far beyond her building, far beyond Reynoldsburg, Ohio. She is an example of a STEM Leader who has had a national impact.

STEM Advocate Award
The Ohio STEM Advocate Award recognizes an Ohioan who has demonstrated a passion for STEM education through public advocacy and participation in leadership organizations that advance STEM for all.

Susan Stearns is the Assistant Director of Programming and Development at Bowling Green’s Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence in STEM Education.

She is a passionate advocate for STEM equity and access, always taking the next step to bring even more students and teachers into STEM experiences. At STEM in the Park, Stearns rallies more than 100 organizations, pulling together professionals from aviation to animal sciences to build their STEM community.

The budget for the event tops $100,000, which she raises every year. She also fundraises to provide transportation for area students to attend.

Stearns also was the lead writer on a grant proposal to the Army Educational Outreach Program. They won the grant and founded the RiSE program with Toledo and Springfield Public Schools. Through this work, 180 students conducted independent research projects, attended a student symposium at Bowling Green, and presented their findings to university faculty. For some of them, it was their first time walking a college campus.

STEM Innovator Award
The Ohio STEM Innovator Award recognizes an Ohioan who has demonstrated an outstanding contribution to the support of STEM education and outreach within his or her region. This awardee is a leader that identifies, supports, and promotes innovative practices that address important challenges in expanding access to quality STEM education.

Matt Ehrhardt is the Assistant Director of the EHOVE Career Center in Northwest Ohio.

Ehrhardt has displayed leadership in the advancement of STEM education in several ways. This past year he was a driving force behind the Regional Makerspace Teacher Academy, the first Ohio High School Drone League, and the Cedar Point Maker Faire. With these efforts, he has directly supported and encouraged educators to work in a more innovative manner with STEM content. He is responsible for getting financial support, managing the logistics and keeping all members informed and engaged.

Ehrhardt is passionate about developing and providing programs that promote STEM for all, and particularly, girls. From supporting female instructors and coaches to encouraging young ladies to participate in programs, Ehrhardt works hard to include girls in innovative STEM fields and projects. He also has grown community partnerships with supporters such as NASA, Cedar Point and Buckeye Cable Sports Network.

About Battelle

Every day, the people of Battelle apply science and technology to solving what matters most. At major technology centers and national laboratories around the world, Battelle conducts research and development, designs and manufactures products, and delivers critical services for government and commercial customers. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio since its founding in 1929, Battelle serves the national security, health and life sciences, and energy and environmental industries. For more information, visit

Media contacts

For more information contact Katy Delaney at (614) 424-7208 or [email protected] or T.R. Massey at (614) 424-5544 or [email protected].

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