STEM teacher Dale Adamson goes to great lengths to show his students at Miami’s Howard D. McMillan Middle School the real-world applications of mathematics. He enthralled a crowd of kids, teachers and parents the day he climbed up on the school’s roof to drop student-made baskets from a specific height to illustrate a mathematical solution to a particular equation. When NASA landed a probe on an asteroid, Adamson turned the event into a math and science lesson that explored how algebra made the mission possible. His enthusiasm for math is contagious: 100% of his Algebra I students passed the end-of-year test, scoring 41% above the state average. Many of Adamson’s intensive mathematics students who start the year in his class below grade level move into advanced or honors classes, and Adamson earned the maximum of 50 Value Added Model points from the state based on his students’ test results.
Adamson uses every minute of class time effectively and is known to create strong relationships with the entire student body, not just his own students. He often integrates technology to make lessons relevant, allowing students to use their own tablets and mobile phones. Adamson sponsors the school’s large SECME (Southeastern Consortium for Minorities in Engineering) club, in which more than 120 students participate, and prepares students for the organization’s Olympiad competition. He organizes and hosts STEM “family nights” for the McMillan community, where students and their families work together on projects involving rockets and hot air balloons.
Adamson also impacts teachers inside and outside of his school. He meets regularly with the math, science and technology departments, models lessons and shares strategies to integrate STEM across the curriculum. He also presents at the IDEA Expo Teacher Conference; setting a roadmap for teachers to integrate Florida State Standards in math and science lessons, engaging with high interest STEM activities.
Adamson coaches intramural sports, modeling good sportsmanship, professionalism and academic achievement; if athletes’ grades fall below a B, he tutors them before and after school to close the gaps so they can continue to play on the team. He also requires athletes to wear a shirt and tie on game days. Adamson was admitted to medical school and started down the path toward becoming a doctor, changing professions after a stint as a substitute teacher convinced him that he would be more fulfilled as an educator.
Adamson earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Boston University and a master’s degree from Adams State University.
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