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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Q & A with Author Dr. Aaron Smith


After reading Dr. Aaron Smith's book Awakening Your STEM School, I needed to know more about this school and what inspires Dr. Smith. Check out our interview!

Why did you get into education?

I was inspired by two wonderful math teachers who taught math with enthusiasm. I enjoyed coming to class to learn which made a positive impression on me that led me to become a math teacher.

Does your STEM school offer non-STEM classes?

Yes, we do! We have English and Social Studies classes.

What is your favorite lesson that you have ever taught or seen?

When the students are in our Maintenance Lab and are working on their plane. While there, students circle together looking at the blueprint and then begin to work on the objective as one unit. The teamwork and pride seen here is truly priceless.

What is your favorite part about education?

Watching and working with kids to reach their fullest potential and seeing the fruits of their labor come to life are one of my favorite parts of education. In my career as an educator, it still reminds me why I needed to become an educator.

What is your least favorite part about education?

I’d have to say that when I work with students that don’t understand the value of an education and I cannot persuade them to take ownership in their work. As a result, their grades continue to drop, which makes it very difficult to get them back on track.

What inspired you to write a book?

I have always been someone who likes to try new things and felt like there was a story here at Aviation Academy. People don’t realize the power behind STEM and student engagement and when I was researching for ways to improve our program, I realized that there were no pioneers to combine both of these elements. So I began to jot ideas down based upon our work and grasped very quickly that this needed to be shared with our community and the rest of the world.

Please describe your process of writing and publishing your book.

First, I would say that I am not a traditional writer and it is still a learning curve to me. I begin each morning with a cup of coffee around 4:30 am and look at emails for the latest news, blogs and ideas to bring into our program. Then after thinking about how to create a model for our school, I would then blend it with our vision and core beliefs. From here, I would go home at night and reflect on the progress and write or edit as needed. This pattern would continue for months until I get a draft more structured.

Once I felt like it was at a decent state to share with others, I would ask for ideas to help with the content and flow. Upon the draft’s return, I would go back and edit more continuing to flush out the ideas and embed the newly worked ones that I have recently done.

This book actually took about six strong edits to be at the place where it was sent to the publisher for final review. Even after the publisher and editor provided me with the proof, I was still finding small typos and corrected as many as I saw before sending it back in for finalization.

What are your ambitions for your writing career? What would your career look like in an ideal world?

I would love to develop a series of books on STEM Education that would focus on particulars such as business engagement, student-centered learning, teacher facilitation, and more. This way others can learn from my achievements and mistakes so that they can replicate their own successes.
An ideal career for me would be one that is like a blank sheet of paper. I love something that has a target and yet can be fluid where I still work with other students, educators and businesses that truly care about our children’s futures. As long as I am having fun and making a difference that is all that means the world to me.

Who inspires you?

My family inspires me. They are the reason why I try to find new and innovative things to share with them and others.

What are you working on right now?

Currently, I am still doing some research on John Hattie and how it can be aligned to STEM.  I am also tinkering with Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences and STEM as well.

How much research did you do before writing this book?

In terms of peer reviewed journals, I have not done a whole lot of research.  I usually get my ideas from blogs and site visits to companies where they are on the cutting edge of innovation and creativity.  From here, I try to replicate it based upon a derivate of their model.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

The hardest thing for me is to change from writing in passive voice to active voice. 

What is the easiest thing about writing?

Creating charts, tables, and models, which I have implemented into the book.

What is your favorite quote?

Being a sports fan, I have always been amazed at Vince Lombardi.  His speech (What It Takes To Be Number One) still inspires me and yet reminds me that things take time and hard work.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

They can visit my website at http://www.stemschooldr.com where I have a blog that I update weekly.  Readers can also follow me on twitter @stemschooldr and facebook (stemschooldr).  Outside of my personal life I work at Aviation Academy and our website is (http://avi.nn.k12.va.us )

Is there anything that I didn’t ask that you would like to include?


Thanks for the opportunity to share this with you and your readers.  I hope that we all continue to work together to make a difference in the lives of our children so that their futures are brighter than ever.

o Amber Gregg






Check out my review of Dr. Smith's book Awakening Your STEM School