Sneller steps in Assistant STEM Director position, teams up with Blosser

Director+Myron+Blosser+and+Assistant+Director+Erich+Sneller+of+the+STEM+Academy+pose+for+a+picture+in+the+STEM+office.+

Riley Thompson

Director Myron Blosser and Assistant Director Erich Sneller of the STEM Academy pose for a picture in the STEM office.

Riley Thompson , Print Editor in Chief

“Dr. Richards says, ‘The world is my classroom.’ We want to live up to that,” Erich Sneller said. 

Stepping into a larger leadership role in the Governor’s STEM Academy has been the perfect fit for chemistry teacher Erich Sneller. From only teaching a few chemistry classes, to becoming Assistant Director of the STEM Academy, Sneller has a lot on his plate. Excelling in his new role and working alongside the Director of the STEM Academy, Myron Blosser, has been two big goals for Sneller. This new position became available when Co-Director Andy Jackson retired at the end of the 2021-2022 school year. 

“Focusing on my classroom for the past seven years, and being the best that I could be in my own space helped me [get to this level]. Then as time went on, I started to think more about ‘How do I help others who also want to have a dialogue about what’s happening in their classroom?’ Facilitating and helping them and then taking coursework of my own is also important,” Sneller said. 

 To be the best that he can be, Sneller went back to college to get extra accreditations to fulfill this role. 

“I took classes at [Eastern Mennonite University], (EMU) in restorative justice and education and I also took and finished a second Master’s degree in education and teacher leadership. My first master’s [degree] is a Master’s in Teaching and all that is to say that when you take master’s level classes, if it’s a good program, it’s not just about you, but what are you going to do with your skills,” Sneller said. 

Through his job as the Assistant STEM Director, Sneller has a wide variety of responsibilities.

“Every little bit of everything from promoting the academy, to sustaining people’s positive experiences in the academy, to helping coach teachers and providing resources, planning trips and collaborating with other groups in the school,” Sneller said. “Another big piece is envisioning a two school high school system and effectively creating a new program. As well as sustaining, growing and enhancing the STEM Academy.”

However, Sneller doesn’t handle his growing to-do list on his own, working alongside Blosser as well as the STEM executive board helps him make decisions. 

“We have an executive board made up of a president, vice president, secretary, and then chairs for different positions such as social outreach, elementary, middle school outreach. They’re key because they have the most direct pulse on what’s happening in school. We rely on them a lot and always ask ‘Is this a good idea?’ For example, we are hosting Film on the Field and it’s a small example, but someone asked to just tell us what movie we should watch. I said, ‘No, no, this is your baby.’ Our role as directors is to facilitate what the student leaders want which is based on them, making connections and knowing people in the academy. How do you use your influence to effectively work together to create?,” Sneller said. 

In order to be effective while having two directors of the STEM academy, Blosser and Sneller need to have good communication.

“Two things that I think are really helpful with having two people are, one is that there’s someone there to talk through things with before we move on, to have a sounding board. No idea is shot down or dismissed at the moment. All ideas are welcomed, and all perspectives are welcomed. That freedom of having someone who recognizes and honors that idea and lets you bring all of your ideas to the table, sifts through them and talks about them is incredibly helpful,” Blosser said. “Secondly, it’s just manpower. Sometimes he’ll be working on one task, I’ll be working on another and we get two tasks done in the time that I normally wouldn’t do one. So, there’s two fold, one is a very kind of logical manpower issue. I can’t be but only one place at a time, but now we can be two places at a time. The synergy that happens when you have two people thinking and talking especially when both people are open. That is huge,” Blosser said. 

Although working together is a high area of success for both Blosser and Sneller, creating a two school system with STEM is unknown waters at the moment. They don’t have definite plans for how the STEM academy will be split when the new high school is in working order, however, having two directors of the STEM academy may allow for one to be at each school. 

“I would say my number one goal is to sustain the great things that have already been happening in this program, because we do an amazing number of things really well. So that’s number one,” Sneller said. “Number two, big picture thinking of how do we transition to the two high school systems and retain and enhance the quality of students in both programs?”

To make sure the academy is functioning at the highest level as possible, getting back to old practices pre-COVID is key.

“Before COVID we were taking college trips, we were taking field trips, and then COVID shook up the world. We’re still kind of in this new chapter where there’s no going back to pre-COVID, so we are figuring out how we can still take some of the things that we’ve done like the visits and trips and make that happen in 2022, given all the new world order, so I think that’s a big piece is just moving forward. How do we get kids out?,” Sneller said.