Named a “Champion of Change” for his work in STEM education, teacher Jim Forde ’14 is honored at the White House on January 26.
James “Jim” Forde, an alumnus of University of Bridgeport’s School of Education, has been named a White House Champion of Change for Computer Science Learning.
He will be honored at the White House on Tuesday, January 26.
Forde teaches seventh grade science at Cloonan Middle School in Stamford, CT, where he was the school district’s former Teacher of the Year. He earned his Certificate of Advanced Study from UB in 2013.
The Champion of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.
Forde and other Champions of Change for Computer Science Learning winners were selected by the White House for their leadership and innovation in expanding access to computer science education and for inspiring the next generation to use 21st-century tools.
“They recognize that providing access to computer science education is a critical step for ensuring that our nation remains competitive in the global economy,” according to the White House announcement.
“Jim’s an amazing person and an amazing teacher,” said UB School of Education Leadership Program Director Ethan Margolis. “I had him for numerous classes. He came in and was an active participant and in some instances took over class to share activities, national trends, his own knowledge about science education, and what it should look like. He is nationally recognized for his computer work and his STEM work. And he made a conscious decision to lead from the classroom instead of becoming an administrator. He is totally committed to students.”
Forde’s influence as a teacher and STEM enthusiast have extended for more than two decades and far beyond Stamford.
He grew up, he said, in a house “filled with Radio Shack catalogues and Heathkits. That’s old school, but Baby Boomers will remember them.”
With enthusiastic guidance from his father, Forde learned to build Heathkit radios, televisions, and other electronic devices. “My dad was an electronics fan and he turned me into one,” Forde recalled.
When he started teaching science in Stamford in 1991, he founded the student computer club, Hyper Card, to share his love of electronics and computers with kids.
“We made interactive [projects, such as] haunted houses well before the World Wide Web was available. This was the first chance any of us had to experience hyper linking. The concept of connecting content in a web-like manner was so exciting, and the potential was so obvious to the kids and me, even at that point, we had a gas,” said Forde.
Today, Forde sponsors the Computer Coding Club and a 3D printing club at Cloonan School.
He has also served as the district’s STEM professional, in charge of developing STEM curricula, planning of a citywide STEM festival, providing STEM professional development, and promoting STEM education. That roll, he said, enabled him to work with other Stamford teachers whose “great ideas” were too valuable to lose.
So he created @stemnetwork, a Twitter feed where teachers could easily, and at no cost, share ideas and resources about STEM education.
Today, @stemnetwork has more than 3,000 followers around the world, including STEM teachers and organizations, such as Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls Build, Latinas in STEM, and Black Girls Code.
“It kind of took on a life of its own,” said Forde, who will post live feeds from the White House Champion of Change Program to @stemnetwork on Tuesday.
The event also will be live streamed on the White House website at www.whitehouse.gov/live/ at 1 p.m.
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