Meet Ray Sampson STEM Academy Teacher at BMS W ho would’ve ever dreamed that “play- ing” with LEGOs could land you a high-paying job at NASA? Thoughts of the storied space agency conjure images of moon-walking Astro- nauts, but the future of space exploration is likely more ma- chine than man. Indeed, robot- ic explorers have been studying Mars and beyond for more than 40 years helping us learn about our universe. So what do legos, NASA, and Biddeford having in common? Biddeford Middle School (BMS) is the only NASA Explorer School recognized in the State of Maine thanks to STEM Academy Teacher Ray Sampson and his team. Facult y Profile @BiddefordSchDpt A graduate of the University of Southern Maine with a Master’s Degree in Industrial Technolo- gy, Ray has been teaching at BMS for 30 years. He began by teaching manual draft- ing, problem solving, screen printing, video production and computer-aided drafting. Most recently he became part of the teaching cohort for STEM Acad- emy which enrolls 60 students who have a passion for STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and who enjoy learning in a hands-on collaborative envi- ronment. The STEM Academy provides engaging, relevant and challenging learning experi- ences within a well-coordinated curriculum model. In this STEM Academy, students learn engi- neering and technology from Ray, science and math from Robin Tiller, and english and humanities from Jake Long. “I feel very fortunate to work on a team with such dynamic educators at Biddeford Middle School,” said Ray. “Mr. Sampson’s class is by far a class that I look forward to. Ev- erything that we do is fun and there’s always something to laugh about in his class,” said eighth grader Zowie Cheeth- am-Wilmot. When asked why he chose to teach at the Middle School lev- el, Ray told The Bridge, “Middle School can be a tough age but you have to be a turtle,” said Ray. “You have to have a hard shell and know when to stick your neck out. I truly like their energy; it keeps me invigorated. In sixth grade they are so en- thusiastic and by eighth grade they have matured so much in those three years. I was fortu- nate to have a great role model in a technology teacher in High School. I really enjoyed the problem-solving aspect of the class and I hope my students feel the same way.” As if his myriad accomplish- ments in education aren’t enough, Ray’s “other” life is equally exciting and dynamic: he’s a farmer, a member of the Gorham Fire Department, has been on North Woods Law, just to name a few. On North Woods Law Ray trained war- dens to execute safe and effec- tive cold water rescues. He has been a member of the Gorham Fire Department call company for 36 years and is currently Station Captain of White Rock and North Gorham Stations. He lives on a farm in Gorham with his wife of 31 years, Theresa, who is an art teacher in anoth- er district. Together they have raised two children, Scott (28) and Nick (25) and are hoping for grandchildren someday soon.