Drew Kennedy, September 2010 News10 Teacher of the Month
SACRAMENTO, CA - It's the beginning of the school year at the Sacramento School of Engineering and Science and already Drew Kennedy's engineering students are tackling a tough subject: Newton's Laws of Motion.
Kennedy loves engineering because he's been involved in it for so many years.
"I worked for Penske making shock absorbers for NASCAR, Formula One and Indy cars," Kennedy said. He also worked in construction for 12 years. "I owned my own company and because construction was slow, I had an opportunity to teach engineering."
He points to a nationwide shortage of engineers and knows it's critical that his students understand his lessons. He throws in a little humor and uses different voices to help.
"I like to have fun," Kennedy said. "Teaching is secondary. If you can get students to trust you, you can teach them anything you want."
Kennedy is also known for what he calls "crazy ideas." He said, "I've thrown iPads and iPods off of buildings, books through televisions, we've exploded things and we've caught things on fire just to prove a point."
He and his students also create things. One student helped him build a huge barbecue grill that he still uses today. "That's my giant competition grill," Kennedy said.
He recalled a football fundraiser and managed to get a Chick-Fil-A mascot suit from the fast food chain. When the suit arrived in his classroom, it turned into a lesson.
"We tested the fabric of the suit and the heat index of the suit. A student wore it and we put a thermometer inside the suit," laughed Kennedy. "The room was 70 degrees and the inside of the suit was about 95."
He also goes on mission trips to Mexico with people from his church. They recently put a new roof on a church for a Mexican congregation.
Kennedy still has his own construction company and has developed his own barbecue sauces.
Students and other young people are always included in Kennedy's projects. He said in addition to learning about life he wants to teach them that if they try, they can turn their ideas into something tangible.
"Let's make a dream a reality. That's an absolute joy to watch that light switch get turned on in the students," Kennedy said.
By Karen Massie, firstname.lastname@example.org