2015 Chief Technology Officer Award: Aileen Owens
For the past four years Aileen Owens has developed an articulated K-12 approach to using computational thinking as a strategy for teaching and learning.
In the first year, the program reached a handful of students in an after-school program. In 2014-2015, the program now reaches more than 2,000 students in multiple schools who partner with the South Fayette School District. The program, in particular, has attempted to reach out to minorities and young women, two groups who have not had the same success in the STEAM world. Owens has trained students to become leaders and works with teachers and other students not only within her own school district but also in other districts and as part of a Summer Institute funded by the Grable Foundation of Pittsburgh. Her student app team has won state and national honors and presented at national conferences for computer scientists.
Owens was honored this year by the Digital Promise. She was one of 16 educators to win the Digital Innovation in Learning Award.
She has always been open to partnering with other groups and institutions. The STEAM Fusion model now includes multiple school districts, charter schools and independent schools throughout western Pennsylvania. The process of partnering is one of the great success stories for Owens and the South Fayette team. This year the team presented this story at the PASCD conference, the TRETC Conference and at PETE&C.
Owens began by working with teachers and administrators within South Fayette. She developed a framework based on the districts' focus on habits of mind and career connections. She has worked with multiple businesses and universities to develop her program. She now has partnerships with Carnegie Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and Indiana University of Bloomington. Each university partner is part of the Summer Institute and provides guidance for the STEAM Fusion model's implementation.
In the next year, through a National Science Foundation proposal with MiT and Indiana University, Owens hopes to take the model to a national audience. The program will literally impact thousands of students around the country. In addition, she has partnered with schools outside the United States. There are partners in Mexico who are working with students in South Fayette.
Congratulations to Aileen Owens, the 2015 Chief Technology Officer Award from PAECT.
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