STEAM Spotlight: Tosin Adetoro

Adetoro Leads STEAM at Thomas Jefferson
Posted on 01/30/2019
Tosin Adetoro

Story - Rob Carey, Photo/Video - Michael Timpane

It’s 8:30 a.m at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Falls Church City, Va., and STEAM teacher Tosin Adetoro is charging her drones for a lesson on gravity. Just outside the school, nearly 800 second- through fifth-graders are anxious to start their day. Lucky for them, they’ll spend time with Adetoro, where she pushes their thinking, encourages collaboration and builds foundational skills that spark the idea of being a scientist.

Adetoro, 36, who started in STEAM in 2005, represents a growing number of female educators in the industry. For Adetoro, as an African American STEAM teacher, she is part of an elite group. According to 2017 data from the National Science Foundation, just 10 percent of minority women were employed as scientists and engineers in the U.S.

“Given the underrepresented populations in STEAM, particularly African Americans, highlighting the numerous contributions of these hidden figures seems obvious,” said Adetoro. “Not only do members of underrepresented communities want to see themselves in STEAM roles, but the diversity also promotes empathy and reduces prejudice.”

With more than ten years of experience in the education field, Adetoro has taught everything from aerospace science and applied technology to physics. She received her M.A. in curriculum & instruction from Virginia Tech in 2005 and earned a Certificate of Educational Leadership and Administration from George Washington University in 2013. Since 2017, Adetoro has led the STEAM efforts at Thomas Jefferson.

“She is a deeply valued member of our faculty,” said Paul Swanson, the school’s principal. “We are grateful to call her one of our own.”

On any given day, you can find Adetoro highly engaged with her students, whether they’re flying drones or hot air balloons (her personal favorite) or building with legos, it’s the extra steps that students and parents alike love about their teacher. For 10 minutes each morning, during the school’s arrival period, Adetoro brings out her personal Bluetooth speaker and starts a welcome dance party as students shuffle in. Passing staff members often join in on the fun.

No matter what she’s doing, her presence is vital, as she inspires the Thomas Jefferson community to challenge their thinking.

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