Position: Multimedia/Social Studies Teacher
District: Effingham Community Schools
Location: Effingham, IL
When Joe began teaching over 25 years ago, he soon discovered his students did not respond to the methods he had learned while training. To engage them, he helped them develop a series of lessons to meet his objectives. One of the first projects they worked on used hip hop music to explore literature; attendances, discipline and achievement improved.
Joe’s students now produce music, books and short films to industry standards covering diverse topics such as poverty, bullying and homelessness. They use 3D printing and drone technology, build educational games using Minecraft, and are encouraged to share their work with large audiences. They collaborate and engage with students and organisations across the USA and abroad and have won several awards.
Joe, who teaches media production and innovation, combines project-based learning with opportunities to work with industry leaders and local businesses. He developed a programme to encourage graduates to return home to develop start-ups that has been implemented in over 30 cities. As an advisor to the Independent Television Service, he has helped develop learning materials for millions of US students.
Joe was Illinois Teacher of the Year in 2007 and received the NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence in 2009. Working with the National Network of State Teachers of the Year and directly with policymakers, he led several initiatives that have impacted education policy and practice at state and national levels.