A high school physics teacher for 18 years, Shella believes she has a calling to reach out and connect with her students. Besides classroom teaching, Shella sponsors the Presidio Rocketry and Robotics Club, and she coaches and mentors students in many STEM-related competitions providing motivation and encouragement for them to "reach for the stars" because she believes there is no limit to what they can accomplish.
"In Presido, resources are scarce to nonexistent, yet in spite of its economic and geographical disadvantages, I am committed and determined to provide our students equal opportunities as students in bigger cities," Shella said.
Shella has earned a number of awards for outstanding accomplishments, including the 2011 A. Scott Crossfield National Aerospace Education Teacher of the Year Award, the 2010 NASA Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy International 'Right Stuff' Award, and was a Team America Rocketry Challenge National Finalist Teacher in 2009.
When Shella first met Janet she was a quiet, insecure, non-English speaking newcomer to the United States. Today, Janet is a first-generation college student attending Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, majoring in chemical engineering and hoping to work for NASA someday. How she got there was through the rocketry and robotics enrichment programs taught by Shella. These experiences helped develop her work ethic, improved her communication skills, and enhanced her ability in engineering and leadership. Janet led her rocketry team three times to the Team America Rocketry Challenge national finals and consistently placed in the top 20, outscoring about 700 teams in the nation. Her team's rocket research proposals were accepted at the NASA Student Launch Initiative in 2010 and 2011 and were featured at the NASA Marshall Star for being the smallest successful team to build and launch an advanced high power research rocket.
View Shella Rivano Condino's video interview
Teacher: Don Domes, Hillsboro High School, Hillsboro, OR
Nominating Engineer: Nolan Hergert, CREATE Lab, Carnegie Mellon University
A high school engineering teacher for 34 years, Don describes his role as coach, teacher, coordinator, facilitator, fundraiser, cheerleader, developer of individualized multimedia instructional materials, and promoter of developmentally appropriate engineering experiences. Nominated by a former student and current college student pursuing engineering, Don's classroom is described as a 'playground for any learner.'
Teacher: Sister Alice Hess, Archbishop Ryan High School, Philadelphia, PA
Nominating Engineer: Doreen Nixon, Lockheed Martin, Philadelphia Society of Women Engineers
A high school math teacher with 40+ years of experience, Sister Alice recognized the value of using engineering to teach calculus and statistics and developed the Container Design Project. Students design a practical container of given volume for a specific purpose. Prototypes are developed and presented to a review board of professional engineers. Sister Alice gets thank you notes from former students, and letters from their professors saying that her former students are easy to spot as they tend to surface as group leaders.
Teacher: Mario Godoy-Gonzalez, Royal High School, Royal City, WA
Nominating Engineer: Abraham Guadarrama, University of Washington Seattle, SACNAS
A high school science, math, and English as a second language teacher of 30 years, Mario told us about Josh, a hard-to-reach student who never showed an interest in any class. When Josh signed up for Mario's robotics team, Mario saw a different student: one who read the programming manual over a weekend and programmed the robot, became the team captain who led his school to several top honors, and who is now enrolled in a college technology degree program with the dream of becoming a computer expert.
Teacher: Susan McCullough, Aiken Middle School, Aiken, SC
Nominating Engineer: Teri Davis, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLC
A middle school science teacher for the last 23 years, Susan hears the constant refrain from her incoming students that "engineers are nerds…they are boring…I don't want to be like that." Yet within the span of a semester she is able to change that sentiment. Engaging her students in the Future City program, Susan has former students who have gone on to earn engineering degrees and one who is even a Disney Imagineer.
Teacher: Judy Stellato, Jerling Junior High School, Orland Park, IL
Nominating Engineer: Anthony Goebig, Northrop Grumman Corporation
A middle school science teacher, Judy's nominating engineer, Anthony, tells us that participating in the DiscoverE classroom program has allowed him to witness up close Judy's passion for teaching. Walking into her classroom you see an abundance of displays, posters, and hands-on gadgets for the students. There is so much stuff you think you've walked into a Discovery Science Store. Anthony also has grown accustomed to picking up the newspaper and reading stories about Judy's students launching rockets, building solar powered cars, and participating in science bowls.
Teacher: Julia Utley, Francis Tuttle Technology Center, Oklahoma City, OK
Nominating Engineer: Arielle Marshall, Oklahoma Christian University
A high school Physics and Aerospace Engineering teacher, Julia noticed that as people grow older, many lose their childhood sense of wonder. "I want my students to keep or recapture that sense and engineering is a tool to help them do so. It is relevant to their daily lives, it brings excitement to a classroom, and helps students to make connections. Most importantly, engineering makes both science and math come alive. Engineering lets students ask 'how and why,' and more importantly it provides the answers."
Teacher: Michael Yakubovsky, Coppell High School, Coppell, TX
Nominating Engineer: Gary Kidwell, Interphase Corp.
A high school pre-engineering teacher with nine years of experience, Mike and his students took on an important client—Amanda. Visually impaired and multi-disabled, Amanda cannot walk down the halls, talk to friends or even play with toys. Mike's senior capstone class designed and installed an activity wall in her classroom that contains manipulatives, sensory activities, and interactive modules that meet the educational needs of Amanda and her five classmates. While Amanda gained a more developmentally-appropriate learning tool, Mike's students experienced the natural progression of an engineering project: research, design, and implementation.
Teacher: Kenneth Zushma, Heritage Middle School, Livingston, NJ
Nominating Engineer: Scott Scott Lubarsky, Independent Consultant, Future City New Jersey Region Coordinator
A middle school technology teacher for the last nine years, Ken was handed a letter from a mother of one of his students with the message "that she had written it without any help and had brought the mother to tears." The student wrote that she had been having difficulty in her classes, didn't feel like she fit in and would cry at night after not being able to finish her homework on time. Yet that had all changed. She discovered a subject she was passionate about—engineering. Her experience in Future City gave her confidence, friends, real world experiences, and most importantly a reason to enjoy school. She is now enrolled in the high school's technology/engineering program and is researching engineering schools to apply to.
Douglas Albrecht, P.E.,Ossining High School, Ossining, NY
Katrina Andrews, Ritchie County Middle School, Ellenboro, WV
Manuel Cox, American Senior High School, Haileah, FL
Michael Geist, Wheeling High School, Wheeling, IL
Lisa Huelskamp, Walnut Springs & Blendon Middle Schools, Westerville, OH
Faridodin Lajvardi, Carl Hayden High School, Phoenix, AZ
Doug Scott, Natick High School, Natick, MA
Christine Stewart, Governor French Academy, Belleville, IL
Jamie Squibb, Whitmer High School, Toledo, OH
John Sweeney, St. Francis of Assisi, Cordova, TN
Jacqueline Welch-Doubek, Mannion Middle School, Henderson, NV
Elizabeth Windolph, McNeil High School, Austin, TX