Getting things right on the first try is next to impossible when you are still learning. Whether it’s learning how to throw a ball, speaking a new language, or even deciding on a future career, instant gratification without any setbacks along the way is highly unlikely. This is just the message AHCCS’s new STEM teacher, Mrs. Katie Mastauskas, wants her students to remember because she too understands that you can’t find a passion if you aren’t willing to enjoy the journey to discovery.
“We have the mantra of failure is not an option at AHCCS, but you never fail until you stop trying. When Thomas Edison was asked how he felt about his failures when he was working on inventing the lightbulb, he said, ‘I have not failed, I just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.’ I never want my students to give up because these STEM courses are not about getting the “right” answer, they’re about the process of getting to a viable solution.”
Katie studied meteorology at Rutgers University as an undergraduate student in hopes of flying into hurricanes and chasing tornadoes someday. When she began her senior year, however, she took a forecasting class and realized she no longer saw herself reporting the weather on TV.
With a lot of uncertainty and even more questions, an opportunity came knocking. Katie was invited to a local school who wanted a meteorology student to talk to 3rd, 4th and 5th graders about climate change awareness for Earth day. When she walked out of the classroom that day, she knew she wanted to be a teacher.
“I loved it, I thought, ‘Yep this is it, this is what I want to do.’ That led me to graduate from Rutgers and move on to get my master’s in education with a concentration in physics from Wilmington University.”
While Katie now knew her calling was to become a teacher, teaching STEM was a happy accident for her. While looking for science teacher jobs, she came across a school looking for a teacher to help with their new Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Gateway courses. The rest is history.
“At the time, they only had one honors course for 7th and 8th graders. Once I started, I had the chance to teach the 6th - 8th grade Gateway courses to the entire middle school. By my second year, I expanded it to the elementary school by teaching the PLTW K-5 Launch program. So, if students came into Kindergarten and stayed until 8th grade, they would have 9 years of STEM upon leaving.”
It’s safe to say that Katie fell in love with STEM because this will be her 6th year of teaching it. This year at AHCCS, she will be teaching all the Microsoft and STEM related courses such as Intro to Computer Science, Intro to Computer Programming, 3-D Printing, an HTML course, and our Raspberry Pie course. Project Lead the Way STEM courses will be available to middle schoolers starting second semester. Being given the opportunity to have Katie teach STEM allows AHCCS to stand out from other PA public schools.
“STEM is huge now. So many college undergraduate and graduate programs have courses in STEM, and almost all of them have an online component. That’s why AHCCS appealed to me, because I’ve never seen that option in high school before. It’s the way of the future.”
Katie’s main goal this year is to get students excited and allow them to discover, whether that means a passion and love for something unfolds or not. At minimum, these courses should spark curiosity in all AHCCS students. When asked what she wants her students to know as they begin her courses, here’s what she said.
“I love new ideas and I am here for you. If there is anything you are curious about, have a passion for, or want to explore more, please let me know. I would love to hear from you!”
Welcome to AHCCS, Mrs. Mastauskas! We know that you have so much knowledge to share and we are thrilled to have you here!