3 Teachers Who Inspire Us | Teacher Appreciation Week 2019


Do we love teachers? Heck yes! We sat down with three SolidProfessor Teacher Ambassadors who continually inspire us through their tireless passion for teaching. Check out their stories below to get a boost of motivation and a shot of wisdom.

Stephen Morgan, Advanced Manufacturing Teacher, Denver Public Schools

Stephen Morgan’s passion for teaching began in a museum. An exhibit designer and manufacturer, Morgan eventually began building projects for schools. And not long after, he got the teaching itch. He worked his way into education through substitute teaching jobs, and after a three-year stint as a middle school science teacher, he transitioned into his current role as a high school advanced manufacturing teacher.

Why we’re inspired by Morgan: “Stephen Morgan is a very creative and passionate instructor. He shared with me how introducing engineering to students is about more than just understanding the concepts — it’s about making engineering come alive by connecting it to our everyday lives.” – Tony Glockler, SolidProfessor CEO

Goals as a teacher: “First would be problem-solving. Through the design cycle, students can try stuff and fail. Then, they feel like they can take those problem-solving skills they learned in my class and apply them anywhere. Second is mechanical thinking: Understanding how to put stuff together (and how not to put stuff together).”

What Morgan loves about his job: “The coolest thing I get charged up about is when kids take the tools they use in my class — like SOLIDWORKS — and build something that they couldn’t have before they came into class. Last fall, several seniors who hadn’t used SOLIDWORKS before built a reduction gearbox. They took a 12-volt motor, geared it down 500:1, and they made the whole thing work. It was really cool to watch.”

How SolidProfessor fits into his classroom: “SolidProfessor is huge for us! Each kid gets an account, and I have them watch a few seconds of a video, then pause it and follow along. They also use it as a resource if they can’t remember, for example, how to extrude a hole. When you’re trying to help 18 kids figure SOLIDWORKS out, they can move at their own pace to stop and start and be more independent.”

Works of wisdom for fellow teachers: “Sometimes, you have to step back and take a long view of education. Every year, there are juniors and seniors I run into who, as freshmen, were really challenging and difficult. When I meet them later, they are completely different people, and they’ll say, ‘I did enjoy your class, even though I was a pain.’ They turn into great human beings, and it’s important to remind yourself of that fact.”

Dr. Jacob Segil, Engineering Plus Program Faculty, University of Colorado Boulder

Dr. Jacob Segil is not only an accomplished engineer with expertise in areas like rehabilitation robotics, prosthetic limb design, and human-machine interface, he’s also a dedicated college professor who ensures his students are prepared for their future career. His journey into teaching was hard won after years of undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. work, and he now inspires his students to take the world by storm just as he has.

Why we’re inspired by Segil: “I had the opportunity to join one of Dr. Segil’s lab classes and was impressed with how he challenged his students to be active and engaged in class. He encouraged his students to experiment with different approaches to solving a problem, and he focused on generating a true understanding of the lesson, not just memorizing facts.” – Tony Glockler, SolidProfessor CEO

What inspires Segil as a teacher: “I like how much energy teaching demands and how it’s always different. I get to work with a lot of motivated young adults, and the interactions with students are the icing on the cake. We have a great program and set of students, so even when I teach a class later in the day and my energy is low, my energy is back on as soon as I’m in the classroom.”

Favorite teaching moments: “On a small scale, there are moments that happen regularly, even in a single class. When a student progresses and they notice their own learning, it’s exciting to see the pride they take in that. On a larger scale, I’ve seen students take things from our classes and turn them into companies or something bigger. I’ve seen students build a start-up out of their ideas. Those give me a lot of pride knowing that’s possible and happening in our classrooms.”

How SolidProfessor fits into his classroom: “In our freshman-level engineering design course, we use SolidProfessor for our daily homework assignments. Then, I use the practice exercises in SolidProfessor as well as ones I’ve built. Pairs of students build the CAD models based on screen captures of SolidProfessor’s programs.”

Words of wisdom: “I would love it if everyone kept a mindset that we’re always students. Just because your four years of high school or college are over, the learning doesn’t stop there. There have been plenty of classes I’ve taught where I completed course work in those subjects, but I’m still learning the material with the students, and every time I teach it, I learn something new. This idea of an expert in the room isn’t true at all. I’ve gotten a lot of degrees on these topics, but I’m still not an expert.”

David Cerio, CTE Teacher/Metals, Puyallup School District

David Cerio has been involved in education for seven years, and he’s loved nearly every second of it. His journey began when his brother — also in education — “voluntold” him to help out at his school. After over a month of volunteering, Cerio contracted Swine Flu, which led to a weeks-long hospital visit. When he came home, the students he’d met during his volunteering had covered his door (with permission!) in “Get Well” cards. And when he came back to school, he was greeted with a standing ovation. Needless to say, he became a teacher not long afterward.

David Serio

Why we’re inspired by Cerio: “Dave cares deeply about his students’ careers and their paths in life. He prepares his students by treating them like adults and requiring them to be accountable. But he also inspires them to put in the effort and take charge of their own learning. And it works.” – Tony Glockler, SolidProfessor CEO

What keeps Cerio motivated: “As teachers, we love kids and we love to teach. If you ever want to change the future or be able to guide the future, you can do it through teaching. Teaching isn’t a job to me; it’s a privilege. This is who I am, and this is what I do — and everyone I work with is the same way. When you approach what you do with love, it’s not work.”

Favorite teaching moment: “My favorite moments are when the kids come back and tell me what they’re doing now. One Christmas, I got a knock at the door and a former student was standing there with a prime rib. It was also a cool moment when my youngest son, who goes to a junior high that doesn’t feed into my high school, said, ‘Dad, I want to take your class.’ So, I set him up with SolidProfessor, and he has an assignment to enter his sophomore year with his CSWA.”

How SolidProfessor fits into his classroom: “I’m proficient at SOLIDWORKS and pretty good at it, but I wanted the kids to be able to learn at their own pace. When we got SolidProfessor, my goal was for six out of the 40 kids to earn their CSWA (Certified SOLIDWORKS Associate). When I told this to the kids, they laughed; they thought they could do better than that. We currently have 17 kids with a CSWA and one with a CSWP (Certified SOLIDWORKS Professional), all in about 90 hours of work or the equivalent of a semester. The other day, professionals from the industry were here and two of our kids got jobs as drafters/modelers. Now, the word is out, and companies come to our high school looking for kids to fill jobs. I’ve never seen a teaching tool work this well!”

Words of wisdom: “How many times do you go down the road and meet people who want to complain about the generation following them? Everyone’s done it. But our future generation is not a pain in the ass — they have the brightest future of all the generations. Here’s why: most of our skilled labor is nearing the retirement age, and it’s creating a huge opportunity for them to participate in our great nation. We need to rise to the need as a nation and learn how to work on our own soil while thinking globally.”

Kelly Mantick
About the Author

SolidProfessor academic content writer and amateur hula hooper