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Northshore School District teacher honored for innovative teaching

Northshore School District
Northshore School District's sustainable engineering and design teacher Mike Wierusz won an award for innovative teaching.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Northshore School District's sustainable engineering and design teacher Mike Wierusz won an award for his innovative sustainable engineering and design program at Inglemoor High School.

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation’s newly launched Allen Distinguished Educators (ADE) program is an award and fellowship program that supports innovative teachers who give their students opportunities to learn entrepreneurship and engineering in creative ways. Launched by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen and Jody Allen in 1988, the Allen family’s philanthropy is dedicated to transforming lives and strengthening communities by fostering innovation, creating knowledge and promoting social progress. The Foundation’s funding programs nurture the arts, engage children in learning, address the needs of vulnerable populations, and advance scientific and technological discoveries.

“ADE recipients represent some of the most creative and innovative educators who are willing to take risks in the pursuit of creating life-changing experiences for students through engineering and entrepreneurship education,” said Susan M. Coliton, vice president of The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. “We are excited to select Mike Wierusz as an inaugural ADE recipient and look forward to the positive impacts he will continue to make in STEM education.”

Wierusz joins six other educators spanning California, Oregon and Washington.  Each ADE will receive $25,000 and a year-long fellowship program that serves as an incubator through which they receive strategy and network support. At the end of the fellowship, ADE’s are eligible to apply for further funding from the Foundation to launch their plans to reach scale.

“Mike exemplifies the best aspect of experiential, project-based learning,” said Larry Francois, Northshore School District Superintendent. "He is a master at imparting the critical concepts and skills of science, technology, engineering and mathematics through the posing and solving of complex, inter-disciplinary, real world problems."

Wierusz has worked with industry leaders and district leaders to develop a sustainable engineering and design program that enables students to work alongside industry experts and apply their science, math, technology, engineering, and design skills to develop sustainable solutions for the planet.  His hands-on/brain-on learning environment promotes active, student-led learning, effective communication and empathy skills, learning through failure, and embracing the inherent creativity present, yet sometimes hidden, in all students.

"The most exciting aspect of the award this year is that I get to work and learn from other teachers as a cohort and work to increase the visibility of these types of programs," Wierusz said. "I think it's important to engage our kids by thinking of creative ways to teach them."

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