AFA Announces 2017 National Teacher of the Year

Benjamin Barkey, left, with student.

Benjamin Barkey, left, with student.

AFA is proud to announce Benjamin Barkey of the Warsaw Community School System in Warsaw, Indiana, as the 2017 National Teacher of the Year Presented by Rolls-Royce. As part of AFA’s mission to encourage education in Aerospace Education and STEM, the Teacher of the Year program ensures America’s aerospace excellence by supporting the teachers that carry out that mission in the classroom.

“We congratulate Mr. Benjamin Barkey on his recognition by the Air Force Association for exemplary efforts to further Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education,” said Phil Burkholder, Rolls-Royce President of Defense Aerospace, North America. “STEM is crucial not only to the future of the US Air Force, but also to Rolls-Royce, as we design and manufacture some of the most advanced propulsion systems in the world. We are proud to sponsor the AFA National Teacher of the Year program and offer our sincere thanks to all the teachers around the US who work every day to educate the engineers of tomorrow.”

Barkey’s passion for STEM education was instilled by his own childhood teachers. Now, he is a dynamic STEM educator and mentor to everyone in his school system, students and teachers alike. Numerous STEM opportunities are now available to the Warsaw Community Schools because of Barkey’s enthusiastic efforts, to include; a mobile STEM Laboratory that takes STEM learning to all elementary schools in the district.

“Ben is a consummate professional. He has made contributions as a leader, a teacher, a mentor, a role model, a coach, and a partner in our system and community. As the educational environment continues to respond to new challenges, Mr. Barkey develops creative approaches so that students continue to achieve excellence in the years ahead. His service to our schools has led to the creation of a roadmap of K-12 STEM education through the Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Institute, which will impact many future generations,” said Warsaw Community Schools Superintendent, Dr. David Hoffert. Dr. Hoffert has dubbed the growth of STEM education in the school system as the “Ben factor”.

Teaching middle school science and math is where Barkey’s 15-year educational career began. His inquiry-based instructional style yielded impressive student achievement results, leading him to become the lead facilitator for the transformation of a K-8 school into the first Indiana STEM certified school, Washington STEM Academy (WSA).

While at WSA, he was the STEM Instructional Coach where he mentored students and teachers in a variety of new STEM programs and helped them integrate project-based learning into their classrooms.

“Teachers need not be masters of content, but, rather, masters of learning. Teachers need to be facilitators of learning and model their own learning for students; they need to take risks and join their students in exploring new things that interest them. STEM is not just a four-letter acronym—it is an educational style; the tool for today to prepare for tomorrow,” said Barkey.

While Barkey has lead 5 student teams in AFA’s CyberPatriot Program and 72 F.I.R.S.T Robotics Lego League teams, he is dedicated to training other educators to become team coaches and integrate STEM into their curriculums. Some of the programs he provides guidance and training for include: Lego, F.I.R.S.T., and Vex Robotics; 3D printing integration throughout curriculums; Projects Lead the Way, Wet, and Wild; Hoosier River Watch; Vernier Probes; Lego Simple Machines; Apple iPad Creativity; Aleks; and Dreambox.

The top three AFA National Teachers of the Year presented by Rolls-Royce are as follows:

Benjamin Barkey

2017 AFA National Teacher of the Year

L.D. Bell Museum Chapter 411, IN

Caroline Little

First Runner Up

General E.W. Rawlings Chapter 213, MN

Nancy Parra-Quinlan

Second Runner Up

Frank Luke Chapter 151, AZ

The Air Force Association is grateful to Rolls-Royce for their continued sponsorship of the AFA Teacher of the Year program, allowing the program to continue honoring educational innovators in STEM. The AFA Teacher of the Year program dates back to the early 1990’s where the mission to recognize classroom teachers (K-12) for their innovative and successful instructional programs originally began.