WC teacher receives Iowa S.T.E.M. honor

Ben Jass presented award, $3,000 check

— Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Anne Blankenship Ben Jass, second from left, a Webster City High School industrial technology instructor, accepts an Iowa S.T.E.M. Teacher award Friday morning from Lauren Burt, Global Communications Manager, Kemin Industries, Paul Gibbons, left, North Central Regional STEM Manager, and John Bonner, right, North Central Regional STEM Advisory Board member. Jass and the school will split the $3,000 prize.

Surrounded by his fellow teachers Friday morning, Webster City High School industrial technology instructor Ben Jass accepted an Iowa STEM Teacher Award.

Jass is one of six recipients of the award from across the state. Each recipient receives a $3,000 check which is split between the school and the teacher. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Each of the applicants are nominated by a school administrator, fellow teacher, student or parent. They then complete an application that is reviewed by a panel of judges. The award is a partnership between the STEM Council and Kemin Industries.

Paul Gibbons, North Central Regional, Lauren Burt, global communications manager for Kemin Industries and John Bonner, North Central Regional STEM Advisory Board member, were on hand to present the award.

“In Iowa today, we know that there is a need for more STEM degrees,” Gibbons said. “There are three jobs for every STEM graduate in the state. So there is no doubt that there is a need.”

The Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council was established in 2011 via Gov. Terry Branstad’s executive order. The council is a public-private partnership of educators, companies, and Iowa students and families addressing policies and programs designed to improve Iowa’s educational system focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Our goal is to try to increase students’ interest and ability to pursue these STEM careers,” he said.

Gibbons commended Jass for the work he does with his students and said that he follows Jass on Twitter (@CoachJass). Jass regularly shares information about what his students are doing and the types of projects his classes tackle.

“I know that we’ve had the joy of watching the project that he had a student working with one of the special needs student to develop a scooter for PE,” Gibbons said. “That innovation is helping better the experience for another student.”

Gibbons also said Jass is pioneering the school’s Project Lead the Way program and was a 2016 -2017 STEM Scale-Up Program. Jass attended the annual Project Lead the Way conference to network with other industrial-focused educators.

“I want to thank you for all the work you have done and the greater Webster City community for all that you are doing to support his work and the work (other teachers and administration) are doing. He wouldn’t shine without everyone else’s support,” Gibbons said.

Jass said he was thankful for the support of the STEM Advisory Council.

“It’s wonderful to have people out there who are helping educators like myself continue to push kids towards something that I’m passionate about and is exciting for them because it’s life changing,” he said.

Jass also thanked the Webster City teaching staff and adminstration for its support.

“I know that I’m only a part of the puzzle. It takes everybody to connect with each individual kid,” he said. “I’m thankful for the recognition, but ultimately, it’s realistically an award for the hard work we all put in on a daily basis.”

“Kids matter most and what’s best for kids on a daily basis is what’s important,” he said.