“I believe everybody thrives when education is designed so students learn with their head, heart, and hands.”
Scott Burke is entering his 21st year of teaching skilled trades and his fourth year of building the construction pathway at Green Mountain High School in Lakewood, Colorado. Throughout his career, he has taught high school automotive, construction, drafting, electronics, manufacturing, robotics, math, and STEM, and holds a master’s degree in educational leadership.
Burke co-created the nationally-recognized Geometry in Construction (GIC) program with math teacher Tom Moore, so that students learn the skilled trades and math through the process of building affordable homes for families in need. Over the past 15 years, Burke has personally taught GIC to more than 2,000 students and trained more than 700 schools to adopt GIC to expand his impact to more than 70,000 students nationwide.
“I am most proud of the fact that conducting trainings over the past 15 years, we’ve built a continually-growing professional learning community that transcends state boundaries,” Burke said.
Students in Burke’s GIC classes work with Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver to help address the growing affordable housing crisis in the area, while learning valuable construction and math skills. The students engage in all hands-on aspects of framing, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, drywall, and trim carpentry while simultaneously learning all relevant math standards, and the utility of math in any career they pursue.
Burke enjoys a unique teaching role as 60 percent of his job is leading the GIC program at Green Mountain High School and 40 percent allows him to mentor and coach teachers at 10 other district high schools in Jefferson County. In 2020-21 he mentored 26 teachers who served 517 students in the district. Over the past three years, state standardized test scores in all 11 Jefferson County public schools that currently offer GIC are outscoring traditional math classes by 400 percent.
Burke has built an advisory board of 50 individuals and ensures that the panel is at least 50 percent women from the construction sector. More that 40 percent of the students in the GIC program at Green Mountain are young women. While Burke has received local, regional, and national recognition, including as SkillsUSA Colorado State Advisor of the Year, his greatest joy comes from teaching the next generation of leaders, and the relationships he has built with students along the way.
“Too often in education, students walk through simulations about the real world without hands-on interactions. In Geometry in Construction, we move way beyond simulations and make learning as ‘real-world’ as possible.”