Bryan Shumaker, Carroll schools STEM coordinator, helps make learning 'real'

Bryan Shumaker, Carroll schools STEM coordinator, helps make learning 'real'
Carroll County Public Schools STEM Coordinator Bryan Shumaker is pictured in an open area where Shiloh Middle School students will be planting trees behind the school. Shumaker has been selected to receive the Environmental Awareness Award in the Institution category. (DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

Bryan Shumaker hadn't planned to go into education.

He started teaching in 1994, and taught at both Westminster High School and Winters Mill High School. From there, he became the science technology engineering and math (STEM) resource teacher, a position that has morphed into STEM coordinator. He's also taught engineering at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center.


But, Shumaker said, the position "sort of found me."

"I was going to be an engineer; I got my degree in physics and then somehow got steered this way," he said.

Now, more than two decades after he began his teaching career in CCPS, Shumaker's work bringing hands-on learning to kids has earned him the Environmental Awareness Award in the Institution category from the Board of County Commissioners and the Carroll County Environmental Advisory Council.

There are five categories of the award: Individual, Institution, Agriculture, Business and Student. The award for the Individual category went to Nancy Bittler; the Business category went to Legacy Septic & Excavation LLC; the student category went to Stella Schoberg; and the Agricultural category went to Carolyn and Mike Krome, according to a news release from Carroll County government.

The Carroll County Environmental Advisory Council sponsors the Environmental Awareness Awards every two years, Frank Vleck, chair of the EAC, said via email.

"The winners in the five different categories are chosen for their hard work and diligence in projects that they undertake to improve the environment," he said. "By recognizing these individuals and organizations, the EAC seeks to further environmental improvements to Carroll County by its residents and businesses."

Shumaker won for his work bringing reef balls projects into the schools. The projects are done in partnership with the Coastal Conservation Association and allow students to build concrete reef balls that get oyster spats placed onto them before the balls are placed in the Chesapeake Bay.

Shumaker said this project is great because the kids can see data from previous reef ball deployments and see how the projects are helping the bay. It ties in especially great with the fourth-grade curriculum, he said.

"The kids have had a lot of classroom experience related to understanding the bay and looking at ways to improve that," he said.

But reef ball builds aren't the only projects he brings into classrooms.

Shiloh Middle School students will be planting trees on the school's property in May. As a part of that project, Shumaker said the students got to help plan where the trees will go and take measurements to make sure the trees are planted properly spaced apart so they will survive.

All of the different aspects of the project — which involve science, math and more — are great with helping the students learn, he said.

"To me it's just making learning real. I think one of the most natural things humans want to do is to learn, and I think STEM provides a context for learning that makes it robust," Shumaker said.

And while recognition is nice, Shumaker said the STEM program in Carroll County Public Schools is made possible because of many partnerships both inside the system and outside in the community.


"It felt, quite honestly, very humbling because I know I'm one cog in something that is much bigger than just me," he said.