Former Seymour resident receives national teaching award

A former Seymour resident has been recognized for his impact on students in the field of career and technical education.

J.R. Drummond, a graduate of Seymour High School and Indiana University, currently teaches engineering and technology classes at Doss High School in Louisville, Kentucky.

Late last year, he attended the annual Career Tech Vision, a professional development conference in Anaheim, California. There, he received the National Engineering and Technology Outstanding Instructor Award.

The award is about more than just teaching, however, Drummond said.

“It’s being involved nationally and statewide and showing leadership in those ways, as well,” he said.

He serves on the Kentucky Association for Career and Technical Education board of directors leadership committee and is chairman of the Carl D. Perkins Assistanceship Award.

“It’s definitely a great association for anyone in career and tech ed to be involved with because they move the needle in so many different ways,” he said.

The ACTE is the largest such association in the country and advocates for legislation dealing with funding and policy for career and technical education programs.

“It’s kind of a leading voice,” Drummond said. “What I’ve learned at the national level is that career and tech ed is exciting because it’s bipartisan, and nothing is bipartisan.”

While other areas of education are seeing funding cuts, career and technical education received a $600 million increase nationally, he said.

Last year, Drummond was able to meet with lawmakers in Washington, D.C., for a national policy seminar hosted by ACTE. He was scheduled to attend the event again this year before the COVID-19 pandemic prohibited travel and large gatherings.

“Obviously, with this award, I’ll have a little bigger seat at the table to where I can really talk with the ones making the decisions and kind of advise in a way that I think is going to benefit students,” he said.

He credits Jefferson County Public Schools for supporting his efforts by allowing him to be involved in his field on a different level.

“It’s definitely a ‘we’ not ‘me’ award,” he said. “But it feels good to be recognized and validated for the work I’m doing.”

Drummond is currently in his 18th year of teaching and coaching. He started his career with South Harrison Community School Corp. in Corydon and then spent four years in Meade County, Kentucky, before going to JCPS in Louisville.

Although he hasn’t lived in Seymour for years, he still keeps up with what is going on at his alma mater when it comes to career and technical education, especially within the area of manufacturing.

“At Doss High School, we have a brand-new $250,000 manufacturing lab,” he said.

Thanks to the industry base in Louisville, the school was able to partner with General Motors to update equipment and give students the education and training they need.

Drummond said he also has been able to work with major companies in the Louisville area to secure internships for his students.

“That’s a big advantage for us compared to when I talk to county schools or a lot of rural schools in Indiana,” he said.

Although he could one day move up in the education hierarchy to become a principal, Drummond said he has no aspirations of ever leaving the classroom.

His father, Dan Drummond, is a retired teacher from Seymour Community School Corp., and his brother also teaches in Louisville.

It’s his father’s career that inspired him to follow the same path. He wants to have as much of an impact on kids as his father did, he said.

“I actually started as a P.E. and health teacher,” he said.

Moving to career and technical education, J.R. said he has a unique perspective. He doesn’t have a background in industry but knows his way around students.

“That has been an opportunity I’ve had, to be a leader in the instruction and management of classrooms,” he said.

He aims to inspire his students to be passionate about their learning no matter their personal backgrounds or home situations.

“That’s the biggest factor in a student’s success,” he said. “Kids will do what you expect them to do. I believe if we hold them to a high expectation they will meet it.”