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Two PLTW Instructors Honored by AIAA Foundation

INDIANAPOLIS – Sean McCullough, a Project Lead The Way (PLTW) instructor at Anderson Districts 1 and 2 Career and Tech Center in Belton, S.C., enjoys restoring cars and riding his motorcycle. James Weber, a PLTW instructor at Timberland High School in Wentzville, Mo., appreciates the outdoors and likes fishing. McCullough lives on the East Coast; Weber lives in the Midwest. Although the two men have various interests and live in different regions of the country, they share a similar passion and prize. Their dedication to teaching students and advancing STEM education has earned them the recognition as two of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Foundation 2013 Educator Achievement Award Winners.

The AIAA Foundation recognizes up to seven outstanding educators for their accomplishments in exciting K-12 students about math and science and preparing them to use and contribute to tomorrow’s technologies.

Although deserving of being acknowledged, both McCullough and Weber were not expecting to receive the award. But, their commitment to teaching and enthusiasm for STEM proved to the AIAA Foundation that they were worthy of recognition.

“I would have to say that being named an AIAA Foundation Education Achievement Award Winner came as a big surprise to me,” said McCullough. “I was nominated by another PLTW instructor that thought I deserved recognition for my work with students.”

“I am both honored and humbled to receive this award,” said Weber. “When I see all the extra work that teachers at Timberland High School do beyond the scope of their job, it is difficult to consider that I should be the one who gets recognized.”

To McCullough and Weber, the award is a perk to a profession they love. They truly enjoy mentoring students and encouraging them to pursue an area of study in STEM. While they are inspiring students, their students are inspiring them.

“Having students undertaking extra-curricular projects in aerospace and robotics is not only a rewarding experience for the students, but for me as well. I learn something every day. Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe I get paid for doing this stuff,” said McCullough.

“Teaching is an important part of my life, and teaching aerospace engineering has been an inspiration. The PLTW classes that I teach are very beneficial for our students. It is truly a privilege to teach, and I am pleased to represent the Wentzville School District in this achievement,” said Weber.

Next week, McCullough, Weber, and five other outstanding educators will travel to Washington, D.C., for the Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala. They will be recognized by the AIAA Foundation for their accomplishments in exciting students and encouraging them to pursue their interest in STEM.