News Post

Biology Teacher Receives Medal of Honor Scholarship Award
Biology Teacher Receives Medal of Honor Scholarship Award

Agnes Irwin Upper School biology teacher Ethan Ake has been recognized by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA)/Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation for his commitment to STEM education and his innovative work in the classroom with a $5,000 scholarship to pursue graduate studies.

The STEM scholarship award is given annually to one teacher to further his or her educational training through a focus on science, technology, engineering and math. Ake, who teaches Honors and AP Biology in Upper School, is currently a Ph.D. student in Urban Education at Temple University, exploring best practices in biology education.

“I am interested in looking at socioeconomic issues facing STEM teachers in the classroom and its implications for education policy,” said Ake. Annually, AFCEA Educational Foundation awards more than 150 undergraduate and graduate scholarships in six general categories.

Ronald Rand, President and CEO of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, which partners with the AFCEA on the award, and Brian Thacker, a 1971 Congressional Medal of Honor recipient for his heroism during the Vietnam War, presented a plaque to Ake today at Agnes Irwin. The foundation, which gives eight student scholarships and one teacher scholarship each year, works to perpetuate the legacy of the medal through education and outreach efforts.

Ake, a Klingenstein Institute Fellow, also received a commemorative coin and commemorative book, Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty, which profiles the country’s nearly 80 living Medal of Honor recipients.

“STEM is so important to the future of our country,” Rand said during the award presentation. “STEM programs are key to the technological development we need to maintain leadership in these fields. We do not graduate enough students to fill job positions in the defense, IT and pharmaceutical companies.”

Upper School Director Joanne Hoffman praised Ake, who joined the faculty in January 2014, as “an insatiable learner, creative thinker and positive contributor” to the academic life of Agnes Irwin, adding that the school “was so pleased that he is being honored today.”

Ake is also a 2015 recipient of the Biology Educator Leadership Scholarship awarded by the National Association of Biology Teachers for graduate studies.


Photo captions: 

Top: From left, Science Department Chair Rosann Westmeyer, Upper School Director Joanne Hoffman, 1971 Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Brian Thacker, biology teacher Ethan Ake, Head of School Dr. Wendy Hill, President and CEO of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation Ronald Rand. 

Bottom: Ethan Ake receives his award from 1971 Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Brian Thacker.