Meg Draeger Receives Excellence in STEM Leadership Award

STEM education is more than a profession for Chaminade Julienne’s Meg Draeger, it’s a passion. And that enthusiasm is contagious.

“Over the years, Mrs. Draeger has created and grown opportunities for students to learn about STEM fields and to show that it’s more than just boring equations and numbers seen on a white board or on a test,” 2016 graduate Colleen Wagoner said. “I can say, without a doubt, that without Mrs. Draeger’s encouragement and creating opportunities for me to explore STEM, I wouldn’t have found my passion for aviation. In the beginning, she was the one who convinced me to take CJ’s Project Lead the Way engineering courses just to try it and see if engineering would be something that I liked doing. I was hooked.”

The CJ STEMM coordinator’s dedication and diligence is being recognized as Draeger is the recipient of the Excellence in STEM Leadership Award by the Ohio STEM Learning Network. The award recognizes a school-level, district, or regional leader with a proven track-record of developing effective STEM programs. The recipients support and encourage teachers and schools to continually infuse STEM teaching strategies and embrace classroom innovation.

“The Ohio STEM Learning Network seeks to inspire the next generation of Ohio innovators by expanding quality STEM education throughout the state,” said Heather Sherman, director of the Ohio STEM Learning Network. “In this mission, dedicated and innovative educators are simply our most important allies. They foster classrooms and schools with a special focus on the design cycle and learning based on real-world problems.”

Draeger fits the bill.

“Meg is a valuable asset for our STEMM teachers, she is always finding new resources to enrich our classrooms; she frequently shares new learning opportunities for the teachers; and she is our all-around go-to when we are looking for something specific,” said Amy O’Loughlin, science department chair and Project Lead the Way master teacher. “Meg has numerous networking contacts within the community and she is able to reach out to these individuals for us. Our jobs are definitely easier because we have Meg in our corner.”

Draeger has held a unique position at CJ since the inception of the STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Medicine) program in January 2009. As a former engineer herself, she leverages the extensive network of local and regional, corporate and community, partners she has cultivated throughout her career for the benefit of students and teachers. Draeger demonstrates creativity and resourcefulness, coupled with an understanding of effective STEM teaching and learning, to introduce and support successful co- and extra- curricular programming such as summer camps for middle school students, a homeroom speaker series, classroom guest presenters, after school student clubs, outreach by students and teachers to local grade schools and community organizations, and ongoing dissemination of enrichment opportunities and scholarships for students and families.

Despite her numerous accomplishments, Draeger is not one to focus on herself.

“This recognition reflects the tremendous support I've received from administration, teachers, staff, and CJ families that enabled us to bring to life our vision of CJ STEMM, conceptualized in the 2008-09 school year at the start of my position at CJ,” Draeger said. “The partnerships and relationships we've cultivated provide ongoing valuable experiences for our students in many courses, not just the Project Lead the Way courses. I firmly believe that no one learns or processes any single life experience in a bubble; every activity or interaction in which we engage, such as a high school course or extracurricular activity, impacts the way another experience touches us, and in most cases produces a greater outcome.”

Her focus remains on positive student learning outcomes.

“I feel humbled and privileged to have received this award. I have valued the opportunity to work at CJ, and enjoy my work as a vocation rather than just a job,” she said. “Here I can embrace my career-long passion to cultivate an awareness and knowledge of STEMM among students and educators, by connecting them to the real world and people of STEMM, with the added bonus of serving in Catholic education and the missions of our sponsoring orders.”
--This story was published on June 7, 2021.