Savannah-Chatham County Public School System

STEM Academy Teacher Receives 2020 Leavey Award for Excellence in Private Enterprise Education

Published on: 7/23/2020

​​​Raegan Dillon of the STEM Academy @ Bartlett is one of five teachers from across the country named as winners of the 2020 Leavey Awards for Excellence in Private Enterprise Education. The award-winning programs represent schools from the elementary level through high school. The educators are focused on a wide array of fields from business to science to special education.  The Leavey Award recipients shared the challenges and successes of their award-winning programs with fellow educators during a panel discussion via Zoom called the Leavey Summit on Thursday, July 23rd.


Ms. Dillon has been teaching learners for over 26 years. She has her specialist degree in instructional technology. Her favorite classes to teach are LEGO Robotics and Underwater Robotics. She serves as the coach for First Lego League Robotics, MATE ROV, and the Georgia Science Bowl. She is also the Technology Student Association Advisor for her school.

Raegan's award-winning program, SURF-STEM Underwater Robotics Free-Enterprise, started in her 8th grade Research Design and Project Management class. It began as an underwater robotics class. Students were involved in finding engineering solutions to global environmental problems by manufacturing an underwater remote operated vehicle (ROV). Soon the class realized that there was a need to create something set with the task of financing and manufacturing the ROV. Enter the creation of a classroom company and the concepts of free enterprise and entrepreneurship.

The Leavey Awards, endowed by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation, based in Los Angeles, and administered by Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, were created in 1977 to reward educators across the country who develop innovative ways of teaching students about the free enterprise system. Each winner receives a $7,500 award. In four decades, more than 600 teachers – from elementary school to college level – have received over $4 million in prize money.

The other 2020 Leavey Award winners are:

 Greg Donnellan, of Lawrence School in Sagamore Hills, Ohio, for “Middle School Entrepreneurship Program for Students With Learning Differences."

 Robert Fredette, of Lamoille Union High School in Hyde Park, Vermont, for “Lancerships."

 Susan Howey, of Trombly Elementary School in Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, for “Fan Faces."

 Andy Wise, of Hempfield High School in Landisville, Pennsylvania, for “Branding Building Through Instagram Social Experience."

​“More than ever, our nation and its economy need entrepreneurs, small-business owners, and business visionaries," said David Harmer, president and CEO of Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge. “These leaders are coming from the classrooms of Leavey Award recipients. People are now realizing what Thomas and Dorothy Leavey knew 43 years ago – teaching future generations to develop an appreciation, knowledge and enthusiasm for the American free enterprise system is essential to ensuring our nation's continued success." 

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