For over two decades, Glenn Lee has taught mathematics and science to youngsters from the rural, semi-isolated community of Waialua where social services, workforce training opportunities, and alternative agricultural programs have been limited. This is a community where socio-economic conditions have unfavorable implications for learning and safety-just the kind of challenge that a teacher with as big a heart as Glenn Lee would be eager to tackle. His activities have enabled students from groups traditionally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-Pacific Islanders, African-Americans and native Hawaiians-to successfully complete a high school program, pursue post-secondary education and acquire the knowledge and skills needed to compete in a 21st century workforce environment.
In 1999, Mr. Lee created the "Robotics STEM Learning Center" at Waialua High & Intermediate School through which more than 230 students have participated in STEM-related competitions and higher education outreach events. The Center affords students the opportunity to develop workplace readiness skills, and learner outcomes such as problem solving, cooperation, effective communication, and critical thinking. Lee's Robotics STEM Leaming Center developed a partnership with the Waialua College and Career Center with a view to increasing the numbers of his students pursuing STEM postsecondary opportunities.
Lee is also the co-founder of Team 359, the very first robotics team and robotics-related program in Hawaii which operates primarily during after-school hours, on weekends, and during school breaks. Mentees participating in Team 359 have won numerous competition awards, including the top prize at the FIRST Robotics World Championship in April 2011 where more than 2,000 teams competed for the Championship Chairman's Award. Additionally, he developed and implemented a long-term sustainability plan based in part on fundraising, and his own endowment fund contributions.
In academic year 2014-15, mentees achieved an 85 to 90 percent participation rate in robotics competitions, and attended workshops with their parents where they received information on financial aid for post-secondary education, internships, and attendance at appropriate STEM conferences. For each of the past eight school years, a participating student from his program achieved valedictorian status! Nearly 100 percent of the students in the robotics program have pursued post-secondary education. Since the 2007 school year, 87 percent of Lee's students have met proficiency in reading and mathematics on the Hawaii State Assessment, and 71 percent have maintained a 3.0 grade point average or higher.
Lee was recognized by the State of Hawaii as Teacher of the Year in 2009, and in 2011 he received the coveted National Milken Educator Award.