As an electrical engineer 24 years ago, Glenn Lee embarked on a career change to fulfill a desire to become a STEM teacher who could offer students real-world applications of what they were learning. Lee’s pioneering efforts in building a robotics movement that ignited a passion for STEM throughout the state is a testament to his remarkable successes and selfless dedication to students, educators and the Hawaii STEM community.
Committed to rigor and relevance, Lee was determined to learn everything he could about robotics. He fostered partnerships, wrote grants, personally bringing in $5m, and in 1999, helped launch the state’s first robotics program in a small isolated, rural community. Today, over 750+ robotics programs exist from grades K-12. The Waialua Robotics Program serves as a model for engaging students in STEM subjects and teaching the skills necessary for graduates to succeed in college and careers. Students display a high level of responsibility by designing their own learning plan objectives, outcomes and assessments, truly living the program’s motto: “It’s not all about winning, it’s about teamwork, commitment and responsibility”.
Since the 2007 school year, 87 % of Lee’s students have met proficiency in reading and math on the Hawaii State Assessment, and 71 % have maintained a 3.0 GPA or higher. “Students who work with Mr. Lee explain that he holds them to the highest of expectations,” says Randiann Porras-Tang, retired principal of Waialua High and Intermediate. “He prepares them for life in the real world. He never accepts excuses and is incredibly persistent in challenging them to achieve excellence.” Most recently, he has been working with the Hawaii State Legislature in 2016 and 2017 to introduce a bill to create a STEM Innovation Centre.