Thursday, November 12, 2015

Masterful Drafting Teacher Honored

Award-Winning Space Coast Teacher 
Helps Position Students for High Paying Jobs

Some people are born to draw. Others are born to teach. Mrs. Carolynn Gannon was born to do both.

Teaching over a span of 25 years, Mrs. Gannon has inspired thousands of students to assemble a multi-dimensional view of drafting as a vehicle for expanding career opportunities and enhancing personal rewards upon graduation.

"I came through industry," she said. "I was a drafter and designer for Kennedy Space Center. My former drafting teacher, Dell Likens, was very likable and influential. He convinced me I should become a teacher. The year he retired, I walked into my old classroom as a teacher. I even found an old gradebook with my name in it!"

The career move has paid measurable dividends in the form of positive impact on the lives of students. "I fell in love with the kids," she said. "It was so neat to see all the potential they have to be successful."

"I used to tell students, 'They paid me to draw. I made a living out of just drawing. It was a great thing because it was something I was able to do and enjoy so much.'"

With her passion and expertise for drawing and teaching serving as a blueprint for the success of a fleet of workforce-ready students, the Manufacturer's Association of Central Florida (MACF) recently recognized Mrs. Gannon at their Annual President's Award Dinner as the 2015 Educator of the Year.

Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School Principal Robert Spinner celebrates a crowning achievement for drafting teacher Carolynn Gannon, who was recognized by the Manufacturer's Association of Central Florida as the 2015 Educator of the Year. "I was completely surprised at the award," said Mrs. Gannon. 

The Executive Director of the MACF, Mrs. Sherry Reeves, works with education and manufacturing leaders through Seminole, Orange, Lake, Osceola, and Brevard counties. "My job is to be a connector," she said.

Mrs. Reeves views teachers like Mrs. Gannon as the critical link between providing students with a 21st century education that is rigorous and relevant and providing industries like manufacturing workers with a solid foundation to flourish and grow. "At the end of the day, it is important that we educate parents, teachers, counselors, and students that there are some very high paying jobs out there."

The Vice President and General Manager of Knight's Armament, Mr. Art Hoelke, nominated Mrs. Gannon for the Educator of the Year Award. Staunch advocates of Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School's STEAM Academy, Mr. Hoelke and Mr. Reed Knight (the owner of Knight's Armament) have volunteered a great deal of time, money, and resources supporting students, projects, and learning goals in Mrs. Gannon's classes.

"Mr. Knight and Mr. Hoelke are both so passionate about education," said Mrs. Gannon. "They are so involved with the schools. Mr. Hoelke encourages students to learn as much as they can from their teachers, and Mr. Knight tells the kids all the time, 'Find your passion and you can do anything.'"

At the MACF dinner, it became apparent to Mrs. Gannon that manufacturers are counting on educators to help students develop the necessary skills required to excel in jobs. She said, "At the dinner, they asked industry leaders, 'How many of you in here are trying to hire skilled people for your company?' Every hand went up. There is a shortage of truly skilled workers to fill these positions."

"Manufacturing is no longer considered grunt work," she continued. "It's high tech. Manufacturer's want students to be trained for the workforce. They're looking for people that have the proper skills. These are technical positions. The whole STEAM Academy, these students can jump out and became a designer, an engineer, a machinist, an assembler. It's not, 'Oh, you're going to be stuck drawing.' You'll be able to branch out anywhere."

What can students expect when entering into Mrs. Gannon's drafting classes? "I take the kids from the most basic fundamentals of geometric construction," she said. "People call them blueprints; we call them orthographics. It shows how the pieces fit together and why these views are necessary."

"I explain to students that everything in the worldunless it's an artistic creation, someone had to technically draw these creations. The pencil you're holding, someone had to make the machinery to manufacturer that pencil, and someone had to draw the technical plans on how to make the machinery. I'm showing them that everything they're doing in here is related to what they'll do out there in the workforce."

As Mrs. Gannon explains, her students will have a major advantage when it comes to finding jobs. "Florida has a huge manufacturing industry with companies of all sizesfrom mom and pop shops all the way up to massive companiesand countless career opportunities our students can pursue upon graduation. If they choose to go into manufacturing out of high school, they will be earning more money than many students coming out of college."

Drafting students rave about the difference their inspirational teacher is making in their lives.

Students in Mrs. Gannon's Advanced Drafting class appreciate the freedom they have to explore their strengths, learn from their mistakes, and achieve great heights of learning through the support and guidance of the 2015 Educator of the Year. "A lot of students are excited," said Mrs. Gannon. "Some of them have said to me, 'You deserve it!' It's really nice to hear."

"Mrs. Gannon is an amazing teacher," said Briggs Kline, a 10th grader. "She has been one of my favorite teachers. She helped me get into the STEAM Academy. I love the program. It is helping me learn more about the foundation of engineering and architecture. I want to be an engineer or an architect in the future."

Marissa Martin is the 10th Grade Class Representative. "I love Mrs. Gannon. She doesn't put up with any nonsense. She's able to joke around with students and still get her work done. She listens to what we have to say and helps fix issues right away when we need help."

Co-Class Representative, Kailey Draa, agrees. "I think she's one of the best teachers here. She doesn't babysit us; she lets us do it our own way. She lets us learn through trial and error. When I get out of school, my boss isn't going to have to walk me through anything. I'm going to be able to do a lot of the work on my own."

MACF's 2015 Educator of the Year is not only drafting a top quality education for her students, but she is helping them construct a foundation for higher paying, more satisfying careers. As industry standards go, Mrs. Gannon was born with the master blueprints to teach and draw.

To learn more about the Manufacturer's Association of Central Florida, visit MACF.

See the district-wide recognition Mrs. Gannon received in a recent BPS News in a Minute feature.

Stay current with Space Coast Jr./Sr. High at Space Coast Edline.

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