Paul Semendinger

Principal @ Ridgewood Public Schools

Presentation Title: The Early Years: Laying the Foundation for STEM Thinking

Abstract: “Hawes Elementary School is a dynamic child-centered school that focuses on “thinking outside the box” and fostering creativity and originality of thought.  The history and reputation of the school speak to the innovation that takes place in the school on an almost daily basis.  Many of our programs and approaches to instruction are problem-based that require the students to use higher level thinking in science, technology, math, and the arts to solve problems. My presentation would focus on two aspects of our work.  First, using our traditions to design a curriculum and an instructional approach that meets the needs of 21st Century learners.  This includes reworking successful programs and finding, developing, and supporting a common vision.  Secondly, the presentation would focus on our efforts to embrace the newest ideas in creative education such as using maker spaces, hacking, Google, and more.   In my presentation, I would share the ways that the original programs developed and the steps we have taken to maintain their relevancy in today’s world.  A huge focus would be on building programs with STEAM as the focus.  In this I would share how we adopted a new vision built upon the very best aspects of NASA as an over-riding philosophy.  Second, I would share how we are thoughtfully integrating the best ideas from the maker movement (and more) to support STEAM in meaningful ways.  Practical ideas, steps, and solutions will be shared along with the pitfalls and mistakes we have taken along the way. My presentation will be dynamic, engaging, fun, and will energize the teachers in attendance while giving them meaningful tools to bring back to their own schools”

Biography: Dr. Semendinger has been an educator for 30 years.  He enjoyed a successful teaching career earning numerous awards including “Teacher of the Year,” before moving on to administration.  Dr. Semendinger has served as a high school vice principal, a middle school principal, and is currently the principal of a most wonderful elementary school.Dr. Semendinger has enjoyed serving in various professional organizations including serving as the President of the New Jersey Middle School Association.  He has also served as an adjunct college professor.Dr. Semendinger leads an active life.  He enjoys running and has completed twenty marathons.  Dr. Semendinger is also a writer.  His published works include “Impossible is an Illusion,” “Scattering the Ashes,” and “Principal Sam and the Calendar Confusion.”  Dr. Semendinger also maintains a motivational blog. A family man, Dr. Semendinger greatly values the time he can spend as “Dad” with his three sons.  Dr. Semendinger was a three-sport coach and was active in the Boy Scouts where he designed and led historical outings.  He is the very proud father of three Eagle Scouts.An enthusiastic presenter, Dr. Semendinger brings his passion for children to his positive, happy, and engaging presentations.