What an AMAZING opportunity the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA) has been! I originally joined as a college sophomore at the encouragement of my college advisor, Dr. M. Roger Betts. We also joined the Technology Education Collegiate Association (TECA) and helped with Iowa American Industrial Arts Student Association (AIASA) events. I fell in love and my passion for Technology Education grew. I went to my first ITEA conference in 1986 in Kansas City, MO and met some amazing technology educators! My second was in Tulsa, OK the next year and I attended with the purpose of finding a teaching position. I interviewed while there and went home to prepare for my move to Norfolk, VA for my first teaching position.
The educators I met at my first two ITEA conferences took me under their wings and became my mentors. I was in awe of these fathers and change agents of Technology Education. These gentlemen offered support, guidance, friendship, and a sense of family since I was so far from home. Many of them and others are still directors and supporters of my career as a Technology and Engineering educator. At my third conference, in my first year of teaching in my newly adopted home of Norfolk, I was able to help with the conference and personally welcome my college peers and advisor from home.
In my 35 years as an educator, the examples of these leaders and innovators have led me to do the same for others. I have taken many new teachers under my wing and through many opportunities; I have watched them grow and become leaders in their own rights. I am involved in my profession through the Virginia Technology and Engineering Education Association (VTEEA) and ITEEA. I started by serving on a VTEEA committee, became a committee chairperson, and then president-elect, president, and immediate past president of VTEEA. This work led me to becoming ITEEA Region 1 Director and serving on committees and task forces, and now president-elect and now president of ITEEA.
There are so many opportunities available to our members. We offer professional development, professional journals, mentoring, networking, curriculum resources, insurance, leadership development, conference discounts, recognition, scholarships, grants, and more. There are councils that focus on the needs of elementary educators, collegiate members, teacher educators, and leadership. We are looking at adding councils to focus on the needs of our middle and high school educators also. These opportunities make ITEEA the best source of information and support for us as technology and engineering educators.
In terms of professional development, I have personally attended and participated in STEMinars, safety micro-badging, digital literacy micro-badging, Engineering byDesign™ (EbD) Authorized Training Institutes (ATIs), town halls, roundtables, and conferences to complete professional development requirements. As a conference presenter, I have shared my experiences and class activities with colleagues to assist them in meeting their needs for professional development and adding to their repertoire. These same opportunities have allowed me to network and meet other like-minded educators who have become part of my support system, mentors, mentees, and friends.
I have served on the Awards Committee and the Distinguished Technology Educator Committee. It is such an honor to have had the opportunity to learn about our incredible educators and leaders in ITEEA and be a part of recognizing them for their outstanding work. I have also served on a task force and as Region 1 Director and worked with our colleagues and board of directors to come up with solutions for current needs and plan for the future of our organization. With each of these experiences, I have grown as an educator, leader, and person. I have also met and worked with extraordinary educators and leaders.
One of the largest personal growth experiences I have had is participating in the 21st Century Leadership Academy (21CLA). I was nominated for acceptance by one of my mentors and have learned so much from the experience. Having the opportunity to meet other educators in the setting of the 21CLA and learning about their experiences has opened my eyes to more that I can do as an educator and leader. I truly stepped out of my comfort zone when it came to our research projects. My cohort peers and our advisors were an incredible support system to help me face my fears as a writer and stand up to the challenge of being published; a feat I never saw as a possibility. We presented our research at two international conferences and had our work published by both organizations.
Participating in an ATI to become an Authorized Teacher Effectiveness Coach took me to another level as an educator. I learned more about ITEEA and how to teach other educators to use EbD curriculum. I was able to work closely with exemplary educators, learned more about EbD, had the opportunity to travel, and became a better educator myself. I have held trainings with Virginia teachers who did not want the training to end and could not wait to take the curriculum back to their classrooms and use the material with their students. Our STEM Center for Teaching and Learning, along with the volunteer writers, editors, and reviewers have provided curriculum that teachers and students love.
My reason for sharing all these experiences is to ask you to expand your experience. If you have not joined ITEEA, join. Also, join your state affiliate organization www.iteea.org/GlobalSTEM.aspx. Get somebody else to join. Check out our councils and add one to your membership. Councils are another way for you to get more from ITEEA www.iteea.org/Leadership/40079.aspx. ITEEA is an amazing organization, and an organization run primarily by volunteers. For this reason. we need you. We need you to volunteer. Join a committee or a task force https://tinyurl.com/ITEEAVol. There are many and probably at least one that will match your interest. Nominate yourself or someone else for a board of directors’ position. We are always looking for members to represent their region as a director, or to become our next president. If you are a researcher or writer, submit your work to the Technology and Engineering Teacher journal for publication. www.iteea.org/ Journals.aspx. Present at the annual conference. If you are not ready to host a session, take part in the STEM Showcase. Apply for or nominate someone for recognition or 21st Century Leadership Academy at www.iteea.org/File.aspx?id=147045&v=9f4f3a7a. The opportunities are endless. If you have been recognized for your outstanding work or selected for 21st Century Leadership Academy, please consider giving back. The link to donate to the Capital Campaign is www.iteea.org/capital_campaign.aspx. Join us at ITEEA’s annual conference www.iteea.org/Conference.aspx.
Most of all, I look forward to meeting and working with all of you during the next year. I hope you will join me in this great endeavor!
Debra E. Shapiro, DTE
ITEEA President 2022-23
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