Lewis McKenzie, ’02 (pictured above, left, with computer science professor Ed Mirielli and Britton Clapp, ’01) made the news in Kansas City for his work piloting computer science courses for high school students. We asked him to tell us more about himself and his career; his responses are below.
Name: Lewis McKenzie
Hometown: Belleville, IL
Graduation year: 2002
What were your campus affiliations and activities while you were at Westminster?
Delta Tau Delta Fraternity, ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), Highly involved with the Computer Science program in its beginning phases.
What was your major?
MIS (Management Information Systems)
What other degrees do you hold, and from which educational institutions?
Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education with an emphasis in math from University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC)
What is your current career position?
Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Teacher and Coordinator of the Academy of Engineering at Ruskin High School
Describe your current work.
I currently teach a large portion of the engineering courses at Ruskin High School including a pilot course from Project Lead the Way in Computer Science and Software Engineering. I also organize outside organizations and companies to come in and work with our students on soft skills and post-secondary planning. I also work with district officials to complete the 5 Year Strategic Planning Framework to guide the district in all decision making. (This is by no means a complete listing of what I do, but it is a start.)
What organizations are you involved in? (If any organizations hold particular significance for you, please explain.)
Academy of Engineering, FIRST Robotics Program, National Honor Society, 5 Year Strategic Planning Committee
What role did Westminster play in leading you to your current position/studies?
Westminster College allowed me to learn social skills needed when working with very important people towards a common goal. My experiences at Westminster taught me to be solutions oriented and action based. If something needs to be done, we need to devise a plan and move forward. My experiences at Westminster also taught me that it is better to lead by example and to continue doing what is right, even if your voice is the only one in the crowd.
Which of your achievements are you most proud of? What do you consider your greatest success?
I am the most proud of the opportunities I have been able to give my students. They are being exposed to things they never thought possible and being pushed to succeed when even when they think they are incapable. I currently work with approximately 175 students in our Academy of Engineering and every one of them is the better for it, and they are willing to attest to that.
How did your Westminster education inspire your achievements?
While at Westminster I worked with professors that treated me as an equal and took the time to get to know me as such. We collaborated through issues and projects that were relevant to both the college and coursework. These experiences have gone with me to education and I treat my high school students the exact same way. With the respect and understanding that they deserve while trying to push them to greater prospects.
What successes and achievements do you envision in your future? What are your goals?
I see the Academy of Engineering at Ruskin High School being at the forefront of the current trends in education at the secondary level. To educate students to be college and career ready upon exiting high school. I hope to continue leading Ruskin High School to be a model school for others to learn from to give their students all the opportunities that are available to them.
Do you recommend Westminster to prospective college students? Why?
I do recommend Westminster to prospective students. In fact, I have brought many groups of students there over the years to see Westminster and experience the environment. I tell them that Westminster is a place for them to grow as individuals and to be leaders in whatever they attempt in life. I also tell them that it is a huge family that will always be a part of their life.