Robotics & Advanced Manufacturing Instructor at F. H. Peterson Academies of Technology to Receive the 2014 FLATE Secondary Educator Award

FLATE awards have served as an effective tool in recognizing educators and industry colleagues who have stepped beyond their call of duty to promote excellence in manufacturing and STEM education. At the secondary and post-secondary education level, FLATE Awards recognize excellence in teaching in a Florida High School in a program that supports the Manufacturing industry in Florida. In addition to teaching excellence, the awardee is expected to work personally with his/her students and with local industry partners for continuous improvement of the academic program, keeping it closely tied to industry needs.

This year marks the eighth year for the FLATE Educator award program. The awards serve as a mark
of recognition for educators like Russ Henderlite who has been a strong supporter of Manufacturing Education and outreach at the secondary education level. Henderlite is the recipient of the 2014 FLATE secondary educator of the year award and was chosen from a pool of qualified and dedicated colleagues who were nominated for the award. “Manufacturing education is critical to provide a skilled workforce to continue our nation’s ability to compete in a global market” said Henderlite. He is the founding instructor for the robotics and advanced manufacturing academy at Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology (FHP) in Jacksonville, FL.

Prior to becoming a high school teacher, Henderlite spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy involved in nuclear power plant operations and maintenance. During his tenure with the navy, first as a nuclear prototype instructor, then as a nuclear repair coordinator he encountered first-hand, students' lack of knowledge in performing routine and corrective maintenance operations. These experiences influenced his decision to become a teacher when he retired from the Navy and provided an understanding of many weak areas students have when they join the workforce.

Henderlite's 18 years of teaching experience is focused primarily on imbibing hands-on skills and trouble-shooting techniques. “I constantly challenge my students to think not only about what they are doing, but why they are doing it, and what the end result will be.” He also works very closely with local manufacturers which has enabled him to concentrate on filling the skills-gap faced by local manufacturers, and helping students develop critical thinking skills, problem-solving ability and improved communication skills. Henderlite also strongly encourages local manufacturers to offer internship programs so students can gain a real-world knowledge and understanding of manufacturing processes.

As an educator Henderlite has made several outstanding contributions to manufacturing and/or
engineering education at the local and statewide level. To promote interest in manufacturing, he identified current technologies for acquisition such as 3D printing and robotics equipment to excite and attract FHP students to manufacturing careers and educational pathways. He also partnered with Florida State College at Jacksonville to develop a welding program for training students under the Florida Trade Grant to meet needs of business partners like BAE Systems, Kaman Aerospace and other manufacturers located in Florida First Coast region. He is a member of the First Coast Manufacturers Association (FCMA) Workforce Development Committee for the past two years, and has played an active role in Manufacturing Day in Florida tours both in 2013 and ’14 where he took 180 students (80 in 2013; 100 in 2014) on industry tours of Vistakon, SAFT Batteries, Boeing and Gerdau Ameristeel. Henderlite has also established FHP as an MSSC testing center and recently served as a member of the career academy best practices panel member along with two FHP students at the Florida STEM Forum.

Indeed, FLATE Awardees have distinguished credentials that they have used to promote excellence in manufacturing on a statewide level. Award winners were selected from submitted nominations from around the state. They are judged by an awards committee from FLATE's Industrial Advisory Committee and not the FLATE leadership team, or staff. Awardees will be recognized and bestowed with their Award during the Annual Manufacturers' Association of Florida (MAF) Summit taking place December 3-5, 2014 at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Destin. 

For more information on the robotics and automation program at F.H. Peterson Academies of Technology in Jacksonville, email Russ Henderlite at henderlitr@duvalschools.org, or visit http://dcpspublic.oncoursesystems.com/school/webpage/689666. For more information on the FLATE awards program and to view this year’s nominees, or earmark a colleague for next year’s awards visit http://fl-ate.org/projects/awards.html, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org.