Tracy Espiritu left a career as a product engineer in the aerospace industry to become a middle school science teacher. She later became a STEAM teacher (science, technology, engineering, architecture, and math) at Dr. Albert Einstein Academy School No. 29. Espiritu has been instrumental in the implementation of the K-8 STEAM curriculum at School No. 29, which aligns well with the United States Department of Education’s goals of increasing student proficiency and interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, as well as the “Educate to Innovate” federal initiative designed to attract, develop, reward and retain outstanding educators in STEM educational fields.
Students at School No. 29 have benefitted from the successful curriculum. The school was among 25 selected from throughout the United States to become a NASA Explorer School in 2007. During its partnership with NASA, Espiritu has served as the NASA Explorer School Team Leader.
Through Espiritu’s guidance, students at Dr. Albert Einstein Academy were afforded day-to-day contact and experiences such as live video conferences with NASA engineers and astronauts via the International Space Station through HAM radio downlinks, student symposiums, information gathering from the NASA Digital Learning Network (DLN), visits from NASA personnel and hands-on learning through microgravity investigations and Earth imagery.
In addition to her positive impact on students, Espiritu continues to enhance the STEAM program through effectively training her colleagues in implementing STEAM instruction. The professional development she has provided to fellow STEAM educators has helped increase rigor and raise the level of achievement.
Espiritu had also taken the role as a district Instructional Technology Coach where she coordinated district wide technology initiatives and professional development on the pedagogy and integration of technology in instruction. She was contributory to the deployment of 17,000 student devices initiating the district’s One-to-One initiative in grades 3 to 12 and the district’s adoption of the SAMR model as the framework for technology integration.
In 2018, Espiritu was appointed as the Supervisor of Career and Technical Education. She plans to use her experience and background knowledge to keep career and technical education current, relevant and connected in order to prepare Elizabeth Public School students for college and career.
In December 2014, Espiritu was awarded the prestigious $25,000 Milken Educator Award at a special ceremony at Dr. Albert Einstein Academy School No. 29. Milken Family Foundation Co-Founder Mike Milken, together with First Lady of New Jersey Mary Pat Christie and New Jersey Acting Education Commissioner David C. Hespe, made the announcement before School No. 29 students, staff, and local dignitaries.
In October 2015, Tracy Espiritu is among six distinguished Rutgers University School of Engineering alumni who have been selected to receive the school’s most prestigious awards for professional achievement and service to the community. Espiritu was awarded the Dean’s Award for Service for her efforts in advancing the engineering profession through personal commitment and dedication.
In June 2016, The Lowell Milken Center (LMC) for Unsung Heroes in Fort Scott, Kansas, an international educational non-profit, has awarded its prestigious Fellowship to Tracy Espiritu. The LMC Fellowship is awarded on the basis of merit to educators who have distinguished themselves in teaching respect and understanding through project-based learning or who have the potential for this distinction. The Center selects exemplary teachers from across America and Europe, drawn from a variety of disciplines, to collaborate on projects that discover, develop and communicate the stories of Unsung Heroes in history.
Superintendent of Schools Olga Hugelmeyer believes The Milken Family Foundation made a great selection by selecting Espiritu for the honor.
“Tracy Espiritu is the embodiment of what we want our educators to be at the Elizabeth Public Schools,” said Hugelmeyer. “She has tremendous passion for the work she does, delivers instruction in a way that allows her students to achieve excellence in the classroom and on state assessments, and brings an extensive background to her instruction that helps prepare students for college, career, and our technological global society.”
“I believe that the future belongs to the educated because with education comes a broadened understanding of the world, the future..." (read more)