Previous Winners

Meet a Few of the 2021 Winners

Scott Burke

Construction
Green Mountain High School
Lakewood, CO
Scott Burke 2022
“Too often in education, students walk through simulations about the real world without hands-on interactions. In Geometry in Construction, we move way beyond simulations and make learning as ‘real world’ as possible.”

Scott Burke is entering his 21st year of teaching skilled trades and his fourth year of building the construction pathway at Green Mountain High School in Lakewood, Colorado. Throughout his career, he has taught high school automotive, construction, drafting, electronics, manufacturing, robotics, math, and STEM, and holds a master’s degree in educational leadership.

Burke co-created the nationally-recognized Geometry in Construction (GIC) program with math teacher Tom Moore, so that students learn the skilled trades and math through the process of building affordable homes for families in need. Over the past 15 years, Burke has personally taught GIC to more than 2,000 students and trained more than 700 schools to adopt GIC to expand his impact to more than 70,000 students nationwide.

“I am most proud of the fact that conducting trainings over the past 15 years, we’ve built a continually-growing professional learning community that transcends state boundaries,” Burke said.

Students in Burke’s GIC classes work with Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver to help address the growing affordable housing crisis in the area, while learning valuable construction and math skills. The students engage in all hands-on aspects of framing, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, drywall, and trim carpentry while simultaneously learning all relevant math standards, and the utility of math in any career they pursue.

Burke enjoys a unique teaching role as 60 percent of his job is leading the GIC program at Green Mountain High School and 40 percent allows him to mentor and coach teachers at 10 other district high schools in Jefferson County. In 2020-21 he mentored 26 teachers who served 517 students in the district. Over the past three years, state standardized test scores in all 11 Jefferson County public schools that currently offer GIC are outscoring traditional math classes by 400 percent.

Burke has built an advisory board of 50 individuals and ensures that the panel is at least 50 percent women from the construction sector. More that 40 percent of the students in the GIC program at Green Mountain are young women. While Burke has received local, regional, and national recognition, including as SkillsUSA Colorado State Advisor of the Year, his greatest joy comes from teaching the next generation of leaders, and the relationships he has built with students along the way.

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Kim Rosenbaum

Welding
Twin Lakes High School
Monticello, Indiana
Kim Rosenbaum 2022
“I love watching my students’ eyes light up with understanding as they master a skill. I know that these skills are so valuable not only to their future careers but also to their self-worth.”

Kim Rosenbaum found welding when looking for a career that would allow a single parent to support two children. After 15 years rising in the industry, Rosenbaum discovered an even deeper passion in teaching welding to high school students. At Twin Lakes High School in Monticello, Indiana, where she has taught for the last seven years, Rosenbaum rebuilt the welding program, growing the shop from seven to 16 welding booths. With a focus on integrating welding and traditional technology, she secured a CNC cutter and 3D printer for the classroom. Rosenbaum also started the Twin Lakes robotics team and an after-school welding club. Her students compete regularly in local and regional competitions.

Rosenbaum has won numerous awards, including the American Welding Society’s Bob Richie Award, Indian Trails Teacher of the Year, and being named one of the Top 25 Teachers in Indiana in 2018. She has also focused on continuing her own education as the industry adapts, attending trade shows, professional development seminars, and developing CNC machining skills.

Her students use their welding talents to help their community in many ways. They have fixed fences and sea walls, created public art, and built a float for the lighted Christmas parade. The class accepts commissions from local businesses for custom fabricated designs. They also help teach the Women in Welding program, which Rosenbaum established to train female teachers and staff at her school — and now the greater community — in welding fundamentals. Students help teach an eighth grade summer program as well. “In our Women in Welding program, students become teachers and aides to our women in the community. There is no better way to master a skill than to teach it,” Rosenbaum said.

Rosenbaum regularly connects her students to industry, to explore career paths and deepen their understanding of evolving industry standards and practice. They visit local businesses to learn about apprenticeships, tour technical colleges, and meet with military recruiters to learn how technology is incorporated in each branch. Every other year, students attend FABTECH, a leading industry trade show, to meet with potential employers and learn about new technologies.

Rosenbaum’s students begin with welding fundamentals in their first year, and go on to seek American Welding Society certifications in their second and third years, with an eye towards future careers. Graduates of her program have gone on to work in the welding industry and beyond: as welders, millwrights, pipefitters, and technicians. Others have continued into the military or to college for a business focus. Rosenbaum focuses on “teaching with love,” and is committed to helping her students find their purpose in life.

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John Gunderson

Automotive Technology
John Jay High School
San Antonio, Texas
John Gunderson 2022
“Not every idea will work out, but just like in industry, you cannot stop moving forward because of external factors. Life goes on, and so must learning.”

John Gunderson teaches automotive technology at John Jay High School in San Antonio, Texas. He enrolled in his first automotive class as a senior in high school and immediately took to the trade. Soon, he had convinced his mother—who wanted him to go to college—that the trades could offer a good, stable salary and a career.

After a decade as a master technician in the industry, including mentoring young tradespeople, Gunderson decided to become a teacher in 2005, inheriting a shop that he revitalized. Building his program included an emphasis on creating a hands-on environment as close to what students would find in the industry as possible. His students operate a live shop and start with trainer units before progressing to actual parts and vehicles. Major projects include working on customer vehicles, sourcing their own parts, explaining repairs to customers, and running diagnostics and research. The real-world experience helps Gunderson’s students earn higher wages if they choose to enter the trade right after graduation.

One of the most important parts of Gunderson’s program is the outreach demo program. This program allows students to showcase what they have learned in the community and garner interest from younger students.

“It shows the community that the trades are not just for people who ‘couldn’t make it in college’ or that the jobs are dead ends,” Gunderson says. In addition to the demos, Gunderson makes a point to expose students to career expos, open houses, job shadowing, and internships. His objective is to help students understand what the career field is like while advertising their abilities to potential employers.

To create further connections for his students, Gunderson is certified for four dual-credit courses and is currently working with a local college to begin offering an automotive certificate program that follows the industry standard manufacturer’s certification model. His program produces 50-60 certifications per year—40 percent more than the average for other automotive programs in his district.

Gunderson was a finalist for the 2020 Prize for Teaching Excellence.

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