Tom Traeger, a La Cañada High School geology and earth-science teacher, often gets asked by his students why he doesn’t move next door to work at Jet Propulsion Laboratory. What the teens don’t realize is that they are the answer to that question.
“I say, ‘I do what I do because I usually get a few of the students I work with each year that go on to work in the field of studies I teach them,’” said Traeger, who has taught at LCHS for 11 years.
“I often wonder what if I had this opportunity when I was in high school, but…I didn’t have teachers that motivated me to reach my potential and I vowed I was going to be the teacher I never had,” Traeger said.
He tried to boost his ability to be that teacher last year by submitting a project proposal to the HP EdTech Innovators Award program, which annually awards $40,000 grants to 10 winners. Traeger wasn’t one of the 10 chosen for the grant, but he did win the program’s Crowdsourcing Award for acquiring the most votes.