Andrew Hampton Chosen for Leadership Mahoning Valley Program
by Dom Fonce
September 19, 2023
Principal of MCCTC’s Valley STEM, Andrew Hampton’s, style of leadership feels cutting-edge because MCCTC’s Valley STEM program and its students are cutting-edge. Valley STEM + ME2 (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics + Manufacturing, Energy, and Entrepreneurship) is a 9-10th grade program at MCCTC. Andrew was selected to participate in the 2023 Leadership Mahoning Valley program. The LMV program is back after a short hiatus and has selected 43 participants for the 2024 class. LMV is housed by the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber.
Andrew is honored to be nominated for LMV by MCCTC and is even more honored to be selected for the 2024 class. He says he is fortunate that the leaders above him, such as Superintendents John Zehentbauer and Dr. Mara Banfield, believe in continued leadership development for faculty and administration. He says he is most excited to get more exposure to the Mahoning Valley community, specifically relating to business and industry. He says, “Sometimes we get stuck in our own bubbles and forget there’s so much happening in the community with so many types of people.” Andrew is excited to see how others lead within their organizations. He is also excited to build connections between businesses, organizations, and the Valley STEM program. He says, “The more connections that can be made between leaders within a community, the stronger that community becomes.”
Andrew began his career at MCCTC as a Student Support Coordinator, but took over as the Principal of Valley STEM in May of 2023. From a young age, Andrew knew he wanted to have a career in education and public service. He says, “I always knew I wanted to be helping and impacting people.” Andrew credits his high school teachers and coaches, as well as various coworkers at MCCTC, for inspiring his leadership development. He believes educational leaders step up within their organizations, are present at events, and make an extra effort for the benefit of their students. Fundamentally, Andrew’s goal is to have as much positive impact on as many people as possible, and especially on as many MCCTC students as possible, which is why the principal role is perfect for him.
In talking with Andrew, it is clear to me that his drive to be a great leader stems from the desire to see the students he oversees flourish. In the Valley STEM program, students graduate possessing the skills of ingenuity, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and various other skills. In the classroom, Andrew’s students are learning coding, robotics, clean energy, and career planning in addition to traditional content areas like English, social studies, and math. Andrew says, “Our goal is to have cross-content integration. Our English teachers know what our math teachers are covering and vice versa. They are collaborating in our lab classrooms as well…so coding, engineering processes, and 3D printing appear at points in all our classes.” He says this is what it means to have a STEM education—students are learning by doing.
Andrew says, “Leadership is the influence you have over people matched with the empowerment you give them.” As part of an educational system, Andrew works with teachers to achieve specific outcomes, then trusts those teachers to impact their students and reach those outcomes. For Andrew, the outcomes he wants for his students, among other qualities, is for them to live smart, adaptable, and skilled lifestyles. Valley STEM is holistically geared to achieve those student outcomes.
Student-community engagement is something Andrew deeply values. I tell him how impressed I was watching the STEM students who volunteered at the Canfield Fair. Specifically, a handful of students ran a mobile robotics lab and fought robots in the middle of a rectangular pen. These students worked with children and their parents, showing them how to build and operate the robots. Andrew says, “From student presentations and competitions, field trips to Youngstown Business Incubator, and community service events like Silly Science Sunday at OH WOW!, we want our students engaged in the community.” He says having his students work with younger children helps build his students’ skills, but also entices a younger generation towards a STEM educational pathway.
Regarding his impact on the Mahoning Valley through the LMV program, Andrew believes education and partnership is key. He thinks improving the Valley begins with shrinking the network of local leaders, then collectively targeting spaces that need the most support. Specifically, Andrew would like to expand career-driven, hands-on educational opportunities in schools throughout the Mahoning Valley. He believes career and technical education is not just important for grades 9-12, but should also be implemented in the classroom for grades K-8.
What makes Valley STEM, and Andrew’s role in it, so cutting-edge is an emphasis on what Andrew calls “Higher-order thinking skills and transferable skills.” In the classroom, STEM teachers demonstrate that the learning process is cyclical and transferable. For example, Andrew states, “We use the engineering design process of identifying a problem, brainstorming solutions, prototyping, testing, failing, and restarting the process as an example for students to solve any problem in their lives.” He says he wants the STEM students to be excellent collaborators, communicators, and problem-solvers. He also promotes grit, perseverance, and determination in his students. For Andrew, these are not only the skills that allow students to operate in the workforce at a high level, but to also tackle issues in their personal lives at an equally high level.
Andrew says that 100% of Valley STEM students placed in MCCTC’s high school career center in 2022. He says, “This shows we had a 100% placement into a career-driven educational pathway.” MCCTC’s high school tracks the “Three Es” after students graduate—enrollment in additional education, enlistment in the military, and employment in their career pathway. Andrew says Valley STEM has students, even though they are in 9-10th grade, already on track to reach one or more of the “Three Es.”
It is clear that Andrew’s leadership is energized by helping the Valley STEM students reach success. He, the MCCTC administration, and the teachers he oversees have an excellent plan and infrastructure in place to create trailblazers. Additionally, I have no doubt the Valley STEM students will enter young adulthood and become innovators. We all look forward to seeing Andrew continue to impact the community during and after his time in the LMV program.
MCCTC Adult Career Center Marketing and Recruiting Coordinator, Jodi Glass, has also been chosen to participate in LMV’s 2024 class. Read her story HERE.
Dom Fonce is a Marketing Content Writer for Mahoning County Career and Technical Center Adult Career Center. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Youngstown State University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the NEOMFA. He has published two books of poetry. His work can be found at domfoncepoetry.com.