As the New Jersey Devils faced the Columbus Blue Jackets on November 25, the team launched a new Teacher of the Month recognition program. The initiative celebrates New Jersey teachers that focus on science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM, through the use of the NHL’s Future Goals project.
Born and raised in Newark and a third generation educator, Sharon Suber, Technology Lead at the Mount Vernon School, was the first teacher recognized by the program for her successful use of Future Goals’ Hockey Scholar curriculum, developed by EverFi. As the school’s technology lead, Suber is responsible for providing vision, guidance and coaching to teachers as they implement technology in the classroom.
Using the Hockey Scholar course, students learn math and science through problems framed around hockey. Elements like the speed of the puck, the angle a hockey stick hits it, or even the temperature of the ice can all impact whether the puck gets past a goaltender. The course also covers topics including the engineering that goes into skates, sticks and goalie padding, among other topics.
The focus on STEM is crucial as those fields are where the economy is growing, Suber said. “We as educators are preparing students for college and those careers.” The 62-year-old teacher, who graduated from school as computer science courses were growing out of electrical engineering programs, also spoke about the need for STEM fields to become more representative of the population by increasing the numbers of female and minorities within that sector of the labor force, echoing articles by US News, Wired.com and other outlets.
At the Mount Vernon School, more than 70 eighth grade students participate in the program, with plans to expand to sixth and seventh grade students soon. Suber said elementary and middle school is an ideal time to develop interests in technology. “Bill Gates and Steve Jobs didn’t wait until high school to first get into computers,” Suber said, using two of the most influential examples of success in the field who both first began exploring their fields early in their education. “We’re teaching kids to be in control and manage their own learning.”
In addition to its online functionality, Suber explained that children run through the different modules of the course at their own pace and can choose whether to work on them at school, at home or at the library.
The Devils will recognize a New Jersey teacher on a monthly basis through the end of the 2015-16 season. For more information on the Hockey Scholar program, please visit www.everfi.com/hockeyscholar. Hockey Scholar and Future Goals, along with the team’s “Stick With It” reading incentive system, encompass the Devils’ Achievement in Academics initiative, which supports thousands of New Jersey students through hockey each year.