Highland Park Independent School District has announced the appointment of Dr. Geoffrey Orsak as the Executive Director of the Moody Innovation Institute. The institute, which is currently in the design and planning phase, will revolutionize Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education in HPISD. Dr. Orsak is the former Dean of the Lyle School of Engineering at SMU.
"Dr. Orsak is a perfect fit for this position not only because of his demonstrated ability to execute bold ideas and engage communities, but because of his deep and profound passion for K-12 education," HPISD Superintendent Dr. Tom Trigg said. "The Moody Innovation Institute will provide learning opportunities in STEAM subjects for every HPISD student, and Dr. Orsak's scientific and technical expertise and experience in innovative learning programs will help launch this program."
As a national thought leader in education, innovation, and competitiveness, Dr. Orsak was one of the very first advocates in the country for including engineering in K-12 curricula with the purpose of teaching creativity and design while simultaneously bringing excitement to math and science. The Infinity Project, which Dr. Orsak both created and led, is today serving pre-college students in approximately 40 states and six countries. Before joining HPISD, Dr. Orsak served as the Executive Director of the Texas Research Alliance.
"I am honored by the opportunity that HPISD and the HP Education Foundation have extended to me," Dr. Orsak said. "I am excited to be part of such a dynamic and ambitious organization with incredibly worthy goals. There can be nothing more important and impactful than improving the education of our children. When people and foundations intersect to improve the experience of learning, we have the chance to enhance the lives for our children, our state, our country and our globe."
Dr. Orsak led the effort to bring the TED conference to Dallas branded as TEDxSMU and created the first TED program for kids, TEDxKIDS. He is also a former Chairman of the Board for The da Vinci School in Dallas.
As an educator, Dr. Orsak was selected as the first ever national "Educator of the Year" in science and engineering by the prestigious technology magazine, EE Times. He has also received numerous teaching awards from his peers and his students. As one of his high impact efforts in education, he led a team that developed the first collaborative Skunk Works Teaching Lab in the nation based on the innovative practices of the iconic and top-secret Skunk Works in Palmdale, CA, a recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2007.
About the Moody Innovation Institute
Through a grant from the Moody Foundation to the Highland Park Education Foundation, the Moody Innovation Institute which will work to advance teacher professional development and a cross-disciplinary alignment of STEAM curricula in grades K-12, enhancing the focus of textbooks to including experiential learning that engages students in hands-on collaborative, problem-solving activities.
The grant also will establish the Moody Advanced Professional Studies Center (MAPS), which will serve upper grade level students in a modern, professional, business setting. This will be a center for high-level, hands-on authentic learning for students and teachers. Students will work with business and community partners and be mentored by actual employers in finding solutions to real-world problems.
These challenging experiences will further increase the academic and career development planning of our students. The funding will be spread equally across the district's schools and, in addition, will be used to promote innovative learning and integrate technology into STEAM subjects. By promoting digital literacy, and positive digital citizenship we will be creating an even more active and engaged learning environment.
More information about the Moody Innovation Institute can be found at www.STEAMatHP.org.
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