WEST ORANGE, NJ - West Orange High School technology and engineering teacher Debra Coen was recently appointed as the executive director of the NJ Technology and Engineering Educators Association (NJTEEA), the state organization representing all technology and engineering teachers.
Coen has been employed by the West Orange School District since September 2000, when she began teaching at Roosevelt Middle School. She moved to the high school in 2013, where she currently teaches photography, basic electricity and introduction to iSTEM (Integrative Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Coen has been the producer of the spring musical at the high school for the past few years.
West Orange High School’s (WOHS) adaptive iSTEM class was created and developed in 2014 by Coen, Ryan DelGuercio (supervisor of technology and engineering), Dawn Ribeiro (director of special services for grades 7-12), and Jodie Goldstein (director of special services for WOHS).
The innovaive program was featured in an episode of "Classroom Close-up," the PBS Emmy award-winning series, in March 2016. The segment centers on the group’s Rollercoaster project, where students and their instructional assistants created loops and tracks to make a working rollercoaster.
Throughout the course, they built upon what they learned and worked with electricity and circuit kits. The course also utilized a modified DECIDER process, developed at WOHS for technology and engineering classes. Marie Blistan, vice president of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), also appears in the video along with WOHS instructors.
The NJTEEA runs workshops as well as an annual conference and coordinates with the state for technology-related events.
Coen has served this year as the secretary on the board and worked on the committee that is rewriting the state standards for tech and engineering, as well as helping lead the group working on certification for tech and engineering teachers. She has been asked to help the NJTEEA create a partnership with the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) to help with its iSTEAM initiatives. The first joint event is set for June 21.
Coen is married and lives in Madison with her husband and three sons. She is running for the Madison Township Council in November.