Director of CHSI
Paul Ritter is the Director and Co-Founder of Celebrating High School Innovators. He is a Biology, Ecology, and Earth Science teacher at Pontiac Township High School whose pioneering and engaging approaches to environmental education have led to numerous awards including the 2014 White House Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE) and the 2012 National Environmental Science Teacher of the Year award. His International Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program (P2D2) was named the number one environmental program in the nation by the United Nations in 2012 for leading his own students to properly dispose of over 1 million lbs. of pharmaceuticals.
His curriculum on the project is now being used in classrooms in over 20% of the United States. Paul has been praised for his interdisciplinary work, particularly his Operation Endangered Species project, a partnership with National Geographic’s Dr. Brady Barr which brings students in art, English, science, and business classes together to study and promote awareness of alligator snapping turtles by raising hatchlings, completing research, creating educational material, and tagging and tracking turtles released into the wild.
Other significant projects he has led at Pontiac Township include the Cell Phone Recycling Program, the ecology class “Adopt a Highway” Project, the Ecology Billboard project, the Student Weather Radio Program, and the Bio-diesel program. Mr. Ritter’s courses and projects have been a source of inspiration for many of his students who have gone on to become environmental filmmakers, environmental lawyers and ecology teachers, and have won numerous environmental and service awards.
Director of CeMaST at Illinois State University
William Hunter is Director of Illinois State University’s Center for Mathematics, Science and Technology (CeMaST). Through his work with CeMaST, Hunter has played a leading role in developing project-based integrated STEM curriculum materials designed to meet Common Core Standards for Mathematics, the Next Generation Science Standards, and Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for grades K-12. He has also conducted STEM education workshops for thousands of in-service and pre-service teachers across the United States, and worked with faculty and students at Srinakharinwirot University in Thailand in the development of a graduate program in science education. Recently Dr. Hunter was awarded a Fulbright Specialist grant to lead curriculum development and training at Erdiston Teacher Training College in Barbados.
Dr. Hunter’s recent research focuses on supporting STEM practices by examining teachers as agents of change through professional development activities. For the past few years, his main professional goals involve investigating, designing, and validating techniques that inform best practices that support teaching and learning when integrating the STEM disciplines in K-12 settings. This work is premised on the view that best practices are an ever-changing and ever evolving process of collaboration among different stakeholders and that students learn best when engaged in activities of their own design . The Celebrating High School Innovators project provides another example of the innovation and synergy that should be encouraged at all levels of education and society. Dr. Hunter works in a consulting and advisory role with CHSI, and plays an integral part in reviewing STEM applicants to the program (along with his colleagues at Illinois State University).
Retired - Professor at University of Illinois
Professor Ray Price, now retired, is the Co-Founder of Celebrating High School Innovators. He has encouraged countless student innovators through his teaching and student coaching work and has been a key player in numerous university events and initiatives centered around the ideas of innovation and leadership.
Ray has spent his career in academia researching and writing on the topic of innovation, from which he draws on both his interaction with students and faculty at UIUC and his earlier career in industry at Boeing and Hewlett Packard. His most recent publications include Serial Innovators: How Individuals Create and Deliver Breakthrough Innovations in Mature Firms and The HP Phenomenon: Innovation and Business Transformation.
Director of Center for Entrepreneurship at Millikin University
Julienne (Julie) Shields obtained her B.A in Classics from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and her M.B.A from Millikin University. Prior to joining Millikin, she spent 11 years in the information technology industry during which time she worked for Nims Associates, Inc. and owned two technology start-up businesses, Open Integration Incorporated which shared intellectual property with the University of Illinois and InVivo Ventures, LLC. She was the Extended Learning Coordinator with Decatur Public School District 61 creating and implementing innovative, experiential summer learning programs and after school programs. In 2013 she joined Millikin University’s faculty and in the spirit of Millikin’s Performance Learning mantra lead the Arts Entrepreneurship program including the Blue Connection retail art gallery learning laboratory. Julie is currently the Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and embraces an ethic of entrepreneurship in her daily life. She lives on a historic farm property east of Decatur with her husband and four children. They own and operate a niche Welsh pony breeding business which began as a social entrepreneurship venture to teach urban children about horses and organic farming. They have hosted over 1000 students over 6 years topics such as horse care, plants and herbs, recycling, and have conducted various service projects.
Program Coordinator at Millikin University
Kate Flemming serves as Program Coordinator and Adjunct Professor for the Center for Entrepreneurship at Millikin University. She plays a leading role in the organizing and planning of CHSI, including social media, marketing and publicity. She also connects and communicates with Millikin, ISU, community, and statewide contacts to further the program.
Program Coordinator Intern at Illinois State Unievrsity
Blake Whittle serves as the Program Coordiator Intern for the George R. and Martha Means Center for Entrepreneurship at Illinois State University. He is currently a sophomore at ISU and plans to get his Bachlors in Business Administration. He is a 2016 winner of Celebrating High School Innovators for his innovations. He currently owns ClikIT, LLC.
Mark Hoelscher – Director of the Means Center at Illinois State University
Paul Wever – Coleman Entrepeneur Resident at Illinois State University
Kate Flemming – Program Coordinator at Millikin University