In 2017, Tom Meeker was named GAC’s PK-12 STEAM Director. He leads all STEAM initiatives, including the curriculum, taught in the Nasmyth Environmental Center, floating classrooms, green roof, and the study abroad science programs. Additionally, he oversees the integration of STEAM curriculum into every grade level on campus from top to bottom.
A 12-year teaching veteran, Meeker earned degrees from Wabash College in Chemistry and Indiana University in Language Education. He is currently pursuing his PhD. He was named GAC’s High School Teacher of the Year in 2017 and 2019.
Even before he ingrained himself into every science-based program available at GAC, Tom Meeker was immersed in the sciences. With both parents in the science and technology field before STEAM was a well-known acronym, his childhood was founded on a curiosity for life and its possibilities.
Machinery fascinated him at an early age. He remembers as a child deconstructing a chainsaw just to see if he could figure out how to reassemble it. This natural ability took him from backyards and power tools to national competitions, including the Rube Goldberg Competition and the Science Olympiad, where he fashioned together PVC pipe and a vacuum cleaner bag to make the unexpected: bagpipes.
Although he had a passion for the sciences, he had a growing interest in… almost everything else. During his time in undergrad at Wabash College, there was no cap on how many classes he could take for the flat tuition rate. So of course, Tom took everything. He would run from a major upper-level Chemistry class to a seminar on religion and, just for fun, he would end an already long day with late hours at theatre rehearsals.
“I stage-managed the college’s production of Othello,” he said. Although his focus remains on the sciences, he still maintains strong ties with the theatre arts. You may have seen him in GAC’s production of the musical My Fair Lady as Zoltan Karpathy, a linguistic expert who strides onto the stage during the “Embassy Waltz” of Act I.
Today, Tom prides himself on being a modern Renaissance man. He learned guitar because he valued the emotion of music and its universal application. He regularly returns to his favorite literary classic from high school, Pride and Prejudice. At the time he was unaware it would become one of his favorites. “I enjoyed Pride and Prejudice,” Tom reveals. “I don’t know if I would’ve picked it up on my own, but that’s what I enjoyed.”
In Tom’s experience, subject integration ensures a complete education. He shies away from learning models that champion subject isolation due to their lack of adaptability. "If you focus on technical proficiencies, that’s what you’re going to get. But is that really what you want?" At GAC, faculty and staff are called to educate the whole student: mind, body, and spirit. Meeker believes that when students learn subjects in a vacuum, an unhealthy layer of isolation is created.
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