STEM Learning Network (OSLN) has recognized the four winners of the
“STEM Excellence Awards.” These awards recognize outstanding teachers,
school leaders, or education advocates who advance quality science,
technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in Ohio.
The awards were announced at the 2019 Cleveland State University STEM
Education Conference, presented with support from Battelle.
Nominations for the 2019 awards opened in April.
Battelle manages the Ohio STEM Learning Network as part of the company’s
commitment to preparing the next generation of innovators. The network
was founded in 2008 and today represents 69 STEM schools across the
This year, OSLN awarded the following:
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.
Candace Hisey is the 10th Grade Language Arts and
Integrated Chemistry teacher at Bio-Med Science Academy in Rootstown,
Hisey designed and implemented a new STEM-integrated Language Arts
course for sophomore students at her school. To build scientific
literacy, students in Hisey’s class created large, multi-week projects
including “The Museum of the Chemical Elements.” Shorter projects
including “Dance Your Reaction” and the weekly “Science Friday” combined
scientific concepts with creative expression.
Hisey’s students also worked to increase the inclusivity of STEM fields.
Sophomores analyzed the gaps in STEM fields, including a low engagement
of women of color, and designed an intervention plan for elementary or
middle school students. Programs created by Hisey’s students encouraged
all students to participate in STEM and built confidence among younger
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
Melissa Durkin is the Principal of Ranger High-Tech Academy in
North Ridgeville, Ohio.
In addition to managing Ranger High-Tech Academy, Durkin brings STEM
pedagogy to her school district. She was instrumental in the founding of
the school, which focuses on problem-based learning, STEM coursework,
Under Durkin’s leadership, all teachers at Ranger High-Tech Academy
receive training from the Buck Institute to embed STEM into the daily
classroom environment. Technology courses at the school connect to the
core academic standards through a teacher collaboration model. Durkin
designed multipurpose spaces for designing, building, fabricating, and
instilling collaboration between grade levels.
At Ranger High-Tech Academy, students are empowered with responsibility
for video production, creating promotional materials, facilitating
distance learning, extracurricular clubs, and tours of the school
building. Community immersion projects connect students’ classroom
learning to STEM careers.
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.
Dr. Bernetta Harrell-Snell is a State Assessment & Performance
Integration Specialist at the Canton City School District.
Harrell-Snell is dedicated to advancing project-based STEM learning,
researching best practices in professional development for educators,
and creating activities for students and teachers to apply their
Her efforts were critical for the founding of the STEAMM Academy @
Hartford Middle School, which earned designation in 2018.
Harrell-Snell’s visionary focus on emphasizing project-based learning
leads STEAMM Academy students to build real-world understanding over a
series of culminating tasks.
She has secured professional development resources for teachers and
opportunities for students. She established a Website Design Challenge
for students in partnership with the Leila Green Alliance of Black
School Educators and volunteered to facilitate the project with the
students on her own time and at her own expense.
With Harrell-Snell’s research and advocacy, the STEAMM Academy @
Hartford Middle School has accomplished significant goals in STEM
development providing major benefits to students.
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.
Dick Dieffenderfer is a Technology Education Manager at the Ohio
Technology & Engineering Educators Association.
His contributions bring high-quality technical, vocational education to
more Ohioans over a career of service at the Ohio Department of
Education, and Ohio State University. Dieffenderfer also served in the
United States Peace Corps.
Recognizing this service, he was named to the Ohio Technology Education
Association Academy of Fellows in 2007. Dieffenderfer is an active
member in the International Technology Education Association, Career
Technical Education Association, and American Association for
Engineering Education. He was awarded a Distinguished Service Award from
the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association
Council for Supervision and Leadership in 2012.
Dieffenderfer was instrumental in the development of the annual Ohio
Technology and Engineering Showcase hosted at the Ohio State Fair. Last
year, more than 85,000 fairgoers were presented with educational
sessions from robotics to drone racing. Throughout the 10-day event, 411
unique activities were presented, with the aim of providing Ohio
educators and parents with ideas and materials to take back to their
community to enhance student learning.
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 www.battelle.org.