FHS Featured in ‘EdTech Magazine’ For Helping Students Use Tech to Advance

Fremd High School was recently featured in EdTech Magazine. The article explores how innovative technology is helping students become career ready. Read an excerpt below:

In the past, students in Steve Elza’s automotive classes at William Fremd High School in Palatine, Ill., had to take turns using a diagnostic scanning tool that cost the school up to $8,000. Today, the teens use an inexpensive device that connects via Bluetooth to the ­tablets they all carry.

“Today’s cars have 100 or more computers in them,” says Elza. “We have to have computers to work on them.” That’s just one of the ways technology is transforming automotive education at Fremd.

When the district deployed tablets, students in career and technical tracks were among the most enthusiastic adopters, says Fremd’s Technology Coordinator Keith Sorensen.

“Devices changed the automotive program the most,” he says. “Students film or take photos each step of the way. They are really good at documenting their work and explaining it.”

Elza, who also coaches the school’s Hot Rodders of Tomorrow team and was named the 2015 Illinois Teacher of the Year, says all the software the students use is online.

“When they look up a torque spec for a brake system, they use our online software and find that information right on their tablets,” he says. “They also use computers to do 3D modeling of parts.”

In addition to automotive classes, Fremd offers students the chance to learn about building construction, engineering, electronics and woodworking. This sort of applied technology instruction was once called “vocational,” and it was seen by many as a place to put students with limited academic skills.

But today, career and technical education programs prepare students for both college and the workplace. (Some of Elza’s students go to $18-an-hour jobs after graduation, while others pursue four-year degrees.) And, as many of these career paths become more technical in nature, school districts are investing in technology to help their students keep pace with career demands.

To read the full article, click here: https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2017/07/career-focused-schools-use-technology-help-students-advance




Two Fremd High School Students Earn First Place, National Competition Spot at State Auto Skills Competition

Curtis Robinson (right), junior, and Samuel Robar, senior, took part in the Ford/AAA Autoskills competition at Parkland College in Champaign, Ill., on May 8.  The team placed first in the competition by repairing all of the faults installed in their 2015 Ford Fiesta.

Curtis Robinson (right), junior, and Samuel Robar (left), senior, took part in the Ford/AAA Auto Skills Competition at Parkland College in Champaign, Ill., on May 8. The team placed first in the competition by repairing all of the faults installed in their 2015 Ford Fiesta.

Two students from Fremd High School earned the top spot in an auto skills competition and will compete at the national level in June.

Curtis Robinson, junior, and Samuel Robar, senior, took part in the Ford/AAA Auto Skills Competition at Parkland College in Champaign, Ill., on May 8. The team placed first in the competition by repairing all of the faults installed in their 2015 Ford Fiesta.

Students will advance to the National level on June 7 – 10 in Michigan on the front lawn of Ford Motor Company and each earned scholarships and various awards for their efforts.

“The cars have 10 to 15 ‘bugs’ that we need to find and repair in 90 minutes and then drive across the finish line,” said Curtis. “Now we are practicing for the written exam for the national level, which is basically like an ACT for automotive, and then we will do the hands-on competition again. We are practicing, studying, and next week we will be practicing on a 2015 Mustang, which is what I believe we will be working on at the national competition.”

Ten teams compete at the state level. All 10 Ford Fiesta’s are brand new, and are bugged, meaning faults are installed. Students have ninety minutes to repair the car and drive it across the finish line. Fremd’s car was the fourth to cross the finish line, but this competition weighs heavily on accuracy. Fremd was the only vehicle to cross the finish line with all repairs completed with a “clean car.” Both Curtis and Sam were awarded $34,500 in scholarships, a full set of tools from NAPA, and a code reader from Bosch Corporation.

PosteditFord AAA 2015

Samuel Robar (right) and Curtis Robinson (left) pose with their first place trophy and FHS Applied Technology Teacher Steve Elza at the Ford/AAA Auto Skills competition.

During the competition, Curtis and Samuel worked on two different parts of the car – Curtis was interior and Samuel was exterior. What Curtis said was nice about this was the ability to consult with one another to solve a problem.

“We divide and conquer to get our stuff done, but it is really nice to have someone else there because when you don’t know the answer you can talk to them and get their input on the problem,” he said.

Team sponsor and applied technology teacher Steve Elza said he is looking forward to the national competition and his students opportunity to compete against teams from each state.

“It’s an amazing sight to see 50 vehicles lined up, all bugged identically, battling for the first perfect ‘clean car’,” Elza said. “Not only do these students receive scholarships and tools, but also the connections that they make are priceless. Students meet make connections at Ford Motor Company, AAA Motor Club, NAPA, Bosch, and many more that would love to employ these students in their companies.”




Fremd High School Teacher Steve Elza Named 2015 Illinois Teacher of the Year, Encourages Students to Find Home in Education

Steve Elza speaks to Fremd High School students during an assembly on Oct. 27.

Steve Elza speaks to Fremd High School students during an assembly on Oct. 27.

Steve Elza, an Applied Technology teacher at Fremd High School, was recently named the 2015 Illinois Teacher of the Year. While students and staff gathered for an assembly to honor his accomplishment, Elza kept the focus on his students and his FHS community.

“As the Illinois Teacher of the Year, it doesn’t mean I am the best teacher in Illinois,” he said to FHS students. “You are surrounded by – and I wasn’t kidding when I said – this is truly one of the best families I could be a part of. As a teacher of the year, I am an advocate for all the teachers here and across the state, but more importantly, for each and every one of you.”

With this honor, Elza said his primary focus is to use the award as a way to be an advocate for other teachers and school districts, and to encourage students to find a home in their education.

Elza’s primary focus is to use the award as a way to encourage other teachers and school districts to allow students to find a home in their education.

Elza’s primary focus is to use the award as a way to encourage other teachers and school districts to allow students to find a home in their education.

“My message is finding a home for kids and finding a place where they can find themselves and grow,” he said. “That is my big message. I am here to support all teachers. I have learned that core classes are essential – you need them – but until we give students a home and find a place or program where they can shine, the meaning isn’t there.”

Elza, who has worked in District 211 for seven years, believes that programs such as automotive are a key component to education. He stresses that students in his classes can take the skillset they learn in the classroom, and apply it to a career in that particular field. He also told his students that when he was in high school, he struggled until he found his passion in an automotive classroom.

Steve Elza high-fives his students that are getting ready to compete in a national automotive competition in Las Vegas.

Steve Elza high-fives his students who are getting ready to compete in a national automotive competition in Las Vegas.

“When I was a freshman, sophomore, and part of my junior year, I didn’t have a reason to come to school,” he told students. “I ditched class, I got bad grades, and it wasn’t until I found my passion in automotive that I found a reason to come to school. I found a reason to do well in English, Math, and Science.”

During the next year, Elza will have a busy schedule that includes speaking engagements, traveling to Washington D.C. to meet President Obama, and Space Camp. Despite the schedule, though, he knows he wants to keep his focus on his students, and other teachers in District 211 and throughout the country.

Watch the video below to see Elza accept his award at the “Those Who Excel” awards banquet on Saturday, October 25, in Bloomington, Ill.




Fremd High School Teacher Steve Elza is Finalist for 2015 Illinois Teacher of the Year

Elza, who has worked at Fremd High School for seven years, is one of 12 finalists for 2015 Illinois Teacher of the Year.

Elza, who has worked at Fremd High School for seven years, is one of 12 finalists for 2015 Illinois Teacher of the Year.

When Steve Elza, applied technology teacher at Fremd High School, first heard about being a 2015 Illinois Teacher of the Year finalist, he was speechless.

“I have a passion for what I do with the kids and seeing them succeed, and when someone else sees that passion and says ‘you’re doing a great job and we appreciate what you do,’ it really validates what we all do here. It’s pretty amazing.”

Elza, who has worked at Fremd High School for seven years, is one of 12 finalists for 2015 Illinois Teacher of the Year. The State Board annually sponsors the “Those Who Excel” awards to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the state’s public and non-public schools, and each year selects a Teacher of the Year from a list of outstanding candidates.

An honor like this is one that Elza said is surreal. He said it is a great honor to be recognized for his passion of teaching students because he is doing what he loves to do. He added that sometimes it’s easy for teachers to be unaware of the impact education might have on students, and moments like this validate the job teachers do.

“Anyone who knows me knows that I truly enjoy my job. I love working with students and being able to share my passion for the automotive field with my students is why I do this,” he said. “Fremd is an amazing place to work – from administration and student services, to other teachers – I truly believe we have a family atmosphere here.”

In addition to Elza, District 211 will be well-represented among recipients in the 2014-2015 Illinois State Board of Education’s “Those Who Excel” education awards program.

High School District 211 Those Who Excel award candidates include (listed alphabetically):

• Secretary to the Superintendent Sally Cimmarusti (educational service personnel category)

• Schaumburg High School Head Librarian Susan Elk (student support personnel category)

• William Fremd High School Applied Technology Teacher Steve Elza (classroom teacher category; 2015 Illinois Teacher of the Year finalist)

• District 211 Academy-North Teacher Dane Henning (early career educator category)

• James B. Conant High School Assistant Principal Robert Small (school administrator category)

• Hoffman Estates High School SOAR Core Committee (team category)

“Those Who Excel” award recipients will be honored by the Illinois State Board of Education, and the 2015 Illinois Teacher of the Year will be named, at the “Those Who Excel” awards banquet on Saturday, October 25, in Bloomington, Ill.




Five Fremd Students Compete in Las Vegas Auto Competition

Students competed in the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow competition in Las Vegas. In addition to competition, they attended the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show and banquet with their sponsor, Edelbrock.

In a fierce battle between 13 teams from across the country, five Fremd High School students competed in an auto competition that deemed to be a once in a lifetime experience.

Students Alex Cook, Avery Olson, Tyler Raap, Bogdan Sabados, and Maurice Schuerke competed in the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow (HROT) Competition at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas. During the competition, students were required to correctly de-assemble and re-assemble a Chevy 350 engine.

This competition uses strong teamwork skills to mimic what a top-fuel pit crew does. There were four competition waves, in which the slowest time was dropped from the team’s overall time. Teams were penalized for not following proper procedures, such as torquing fasteners, adjusting valve train, or dropping critical parts. The FHS team’s time was 28 minutes, 50 seconds, which landed them a 10th-place finish.

The team was sponsored by Edelbrock, a world leader in automotive performance. Edelbrock also invited the students to sit center stage with Vic Edelbrock Jr., his wife Nancy, and their daughter, Christi, at the SEMA banquet.

“This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for these students to not only meet, but discuss cars with a legend and his family,” said Steve Elza, the students’ automotive teacher.

All three of the team’s engines were in perfect working condition at the end of the competition. Each student received a $15,000 scholarship in addition to scholarships they received during the regional level competition. After competing, they attended the SEMA show where they made contacts that will lead toward additional scholarships, internships, and employment opportunities.

“Walking through the countless manufacturer booths at the show, one theme was apparent: we need the young minds of today to carry us into tomorrow,” Elza said. “The need for skilled labor is in high demand and the automotive industry is no different.”