COURTESY OF KATHY ZETTL-SCHAFFER - John Niebergall was honored at the White House Friday, one of 10 Champions of Change for Making who were praised for 'doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.' Sherwood High School teacher John Niebergall was honored at the White House June 17, one of 10 individuals from across the country as “White House Champions of Change for Making.” He was selected for the prestigious honor out of a total of 600 submissions received from across the country.

The honorees of the Champions of Change program were selected by the White House for their personal passion and tireless efforts to make advances in technology and platforms, educational opportunities, or spaces that empower even more Americans to become tinkerers, inventors, and entrepreneurs. The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.

COURTESY OF KATHY ZETTL-SCHAFFER - SHS teacher John Niebergall met with Sen. Ron Wyden on June 17 before attending the Champions of Change for Making event at the White House."It was humbling to be nominated by such a diverse group of people,” said Niebergall. “I heard from a former student who is a NY City advertising marketer, current students, former bosses, local business partners and countless educators in Oregon, Washington and Alaska who collaborate with me.”

Niebergall said he is pleased the White House administration has recognized the need to invest in maker, tech ed and computer science programs across the nation.

“The more we can turn the spotlight onto the needs of our classrooms, the more we can better prepare our student for the career opportunities available to them,” he said.

Among the activities Niebergall attended during his visit to the nation’s capital were attending the Maker Faire at University of District of Columbia where he met other “makers” (persons that have an idea/or concept in their mind and take action to turn that into a tangible model or object) from around the nation. President Barack Obama declared the week of June 17-23 National Maker Week.

Niebergall also received a private tour of the West Wing of the White House where he saw the Oval Office and walked through the Rose Garden as well.

At Sherwood High School, Niebergall has provided his students with hands-on, contextualized learning experiences and has directly raised more than $825,000 through grants and in-kind contributions to establish a classroom and mobile Fab Lab.

His efforts have also contributed to the success of creating a culture of inclusion in his classroom with a notably high participation of female students.

After teaching in Sherwood School District for 32 years, Niebergall will be moving on from Sherwood to take on a new role with the Northwest Education Service District in Fall 2016.

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