OSLN shares our heartfelt gratitude and congratulations to Ohio’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Paolo DeMaria, who will retire from the Ohio Department of Education on September 24, 2021. Throughout his five-year tenure, Superintendent DeMaria was a strong supporter of STEM education and the Ohio STEM Learning Network.
He served on the Ohio STEM Committee throughout this time, attending every meeting. There he drove critical conversations about the future of STEM and recognizing excellence in designated STEM/STEAM schools. Over the course of DeMaria’s five years, the number of STEM and STEAM schools grew from 30 designated schools in 2016 to 81 today. Under his leadership, the Ohio Department of Education collaborated with us on major improvements to the STEM designation process in those years – convening a multi-disciplinary work-group to create the Ohio Quality Model for STEM and STEAM schools and leading the creation of a new rubric for STEM and STEAM designation aligned with the quality model and ORC 3326.03, the law that governs STEM and STEAM designation.
STEM Committee Chair, Dr. Thomas Schweiterman has served alongside Superintendent DeMaria for the last five years. He said:
“It has been a true pleasure to work with Paolo during my time as STEM Committee Chair. Paolo is the consummate advocate for all students in the State of Ohio. He is a believer in STEM and STEAM education and his contributions to advancing the network cannot be overstated. As the top educator, he is smart, well informed, and always prepared. He brought all these assets to our STEM meetings, but also became a trusted friend and advisor to all of us. I sincerely thank him for his contributions wish him the best on his next personal journey and congratulate him on his retirement.”
Superintendent DeMaria’s support for STEM goes beyond his involvement with the STEM Committee. He was a champion of the annual OSLN Student Design and Entrepreneurship Challenge. He encouraged schools to participate in the challenge, joined students at the Ohio State Fair to discuss their design challenge solutions, and gave remarks at every showcase of student solutions. At every opportunity, he praised students’ innovative ideas and creativity while encouraging them to continue solving problems throughout their lives.
Under Superintendent DeMaria’s direction, the partnership between the Ohio Department of Education and OSLN has become stronger. More students than ever before experienced quality STEM and STEAM education in Ohio thanks to his leadership.
We reached out to ask what advice he had for STEM educators as we move forward – he said:
“I’m a strong believer in the power of STEM teaching and learning. So much of STEM learning integrates various disciplines and promotes design thinking, problem-solving and information synthesis. These are essential skills in careers and life. STEM unlocks a world of wonder and knowledge for our students — so if we want to introduce the world to the next generation of innovators and inventors, self-reliant and logical thinkers and technologically proficient problem-solvers — we have to continue to uplift and support STEM learning opportunities.”
On behalf of the advocates, educators, and leaders that make up the Ohio STEM Learning Network, thank you Superintendent DeMaria’s for your leadership, collaborative spirit, and encouragement to grow STEM in Ohio.