Freestyle Academy teacher wins STEM Teaching Award

Leo Florendo of Freestyle Academy of Communication Arts & Technology last week was named a recipient of Santa Clara County’s annual Texas Instruments Innovations in STEM Teaching Award.

Florendo, program coordinator and digital media teacher at Freestyle Academy – the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District program for juniors and seniors that emphasizes cutting-edge multimedia – was among five science, technology, engineering and math teachers at public schools selected for the award from a pool of countywide nominees.

Nominated by their principals, the award candidates underwent an application process, and their applications were reviewed by a panel of experts.

Each award winner will receive $1,000 and have the opportunity to attend a free professional development course offered by the Santa Clara County Office of Education, according to County Superintendent of Schools Mary Ann Dewan. An awards ceremony is scheduled Oct. 22 in Campbell.

Florendo said he was recognized for his contributions to the “T” in STEM – technology.

“I teach Digital Media to high school juniors and seniors with a variety of software applications and hardware,” he said. “Digital Media, a required course at Freestyle Academy for all students, provides a theoretical and applied practical foundation to use digital media in graphic and traditional art along with audio engineering.”

Florendo said his teaching goal in his Digital Media class is to provide students with skills to express themselves creatively in various media, leveraging the use of modern technology so that when they graduate from high school, they can follow many different creative production paths based on the experience they gained at Freestyle Academy.

“I feel it’s just as important to discover what is not your passion as it is important to discover what is your passion,” he said. “My classes guide students through their discovery.”

Florendo said he hopes that his students come away after two years in his class with greater passion, confidence and skills to tell the truth in their stories and others’ in relevant and meaningful digital media productions for a global audience.

“I am thankful for the award and recognition,” he said. “The true stars are my students, who come along for the journey of self-discovery and who take the risk to express the truths they see in our world with creative digital media productions.”

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