Photo: Wes Taylor (Superintendent of LCS), Matt North, Nick Lacey (President, South Georgia Chapter, AFA), and LeAnne McCall (Principal of LHS)
Matthew North, Technology and Engineering teacher at Lowndes High School (LHS) was recently named the AFA Georgia STEM Teacher of the Year. The Air Force Association recognizes local, state, and national Teachers of the Year annually. The State Teacher of the Year award honors exemplary K-12 educators and Chapter Teacher of the Year winners at the AFA State level who make a profound difference in the lives of their students and in their community. As State Teacher of the Year, Mr. North will be a candidate for National Teacher of the Year.
Mr. North began his teaching career at Lowndes High School five years ago following a 14-year career in Information Technology. Under Mr. North’s instruction and leadership, the LHS Engineering Program has experienced growth and success. Within the last two years, he has taken on the task of modernizing many of the learning activities in upper-level engineering courses to create real-world student experiences using the latest electronics, automation, CNC, CAD, materials, and design processes. Several current projects are of particular application to aerospace engineering and offer skills and experience that may easily be applied to aerospace. Automation, electronics, and programming are central to almost every project, but especially robotics where students are now utilizing vision sensors, 3-axis gyroscopic sensors, and pattern/color recognition to accomplish autonomous tasks in local, state, and world competitions.
Mr. North is also an advisor for the Technology Student Association (TSA) and VEX Robotics. During his advisorship, LHS TSA has maintained recognition at all levels, including seven State and two National Officers, many top ten state awards, two national top ten awards, and even a qualification to compete at the 2020 VEX Robotics World Championship.
2020 brought many challenges to continuing these learning experiences in a primarily hands-on environment. However, Mr. North stated, “Just as I would expect of my students, I found creative ways to continue learning virtually during school closures. Virtual electronic circuitry building, programming, collaborative CAD modeling a class project, and even participating in a hybrid virtual VEX Robotics competition to keep students engaged and learning. Learning is lifelong, and I continue to practice this personally and professionally. I continue to further my own education as well, receiving my M.Ed. in Adult and Career Education in 2019, and am scheduled to complete my Ed.S. this fall and my doctorate in 2022. While this nomination is an honor, it does not compare to the validation of the positive impact upon students’ lives I’ve been a part of.”