2010 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award - Education
Michael C. Lach is Special Assistant at the United States Department of Education where he coordinates science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM education) for our nation's public schools. He has worked tirelessly, beginning in New Orleans as a charter member of Teach for America, to improve the public school experience of all students regardless of their economic status. Now in 2010, Lach finds himself working to advance education reforms to increase student performance and close achievement gaps throughout the country.
"This is the change of a lifetime...to play a part in national efforts to lift our children and families out of poverty, to help our students learn and contribute to the civility of our great American democracy, and to strengthen our economy by producing a workforce that can make us as competitive as possible."
A glance at Michael Lach's success in the Chicago Public Schools from 2002 to 2009 provides reason for optimism. As Director of Science, Director of Mathematics and Science, and then as Officer of Teaching and Learning, Lach helped 66.7% of Chicago elementary students meet or exceed state reading standards and 70.6% meet or exceed state math standards. He was a senior member of the team led by now-Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that contributed to gains on the ACT three times the rate of national gains and nearly twice the rate of gain posted by the State of Illinois. The number of high school students taking Advanced Placement courses tripled, and the number of students passing AP classes doubled.
It is no surprise that as a student at Community High School, Lach's favorite classes were AP Calculus and AP English. He competed on the Tennis Team and set the Wildcat Swim Team record in 100 meter backstroke. At graduation in 1986 he received the Lions Club Athletic Scholar Award, the U.S. Army Reserve Scholar Athlete Award and was named an Illinois Scholar.
In 1990, Lach received his B.A. degree in Physics with a minor in Public Policy from Carleton College. He earned teaching certificates from Loyola and Tulane Universities in New Orleans, an M.A.T. in Science Education from Columbia University, New York, and an M.A.T. in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago. In 2000 he served as Lead Curriculum Developer at Northwestern University's Center for Learning Technologies in Urban Schools.
Lach has received numerous awards and recognitions including Golden Apple Foundation Finalist, the 1999 Outstanding Physics Teacher of the Year by the Illinois section of the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the 2000 Radio Shack National Teacher Award as one of the top 100 Technology Educators in the United States. He served as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow in Washington D.C. assisting with development of the National Science Foundation Acts of 2000.
As Michael Lach goes to work for our nation's public school students, he will bring businesses, universities, laboratories, museums, and foundations together with federal agencies to develop mutual goals and a dynamic STEM education strategy that engages students across grade levels in school districts across the country.
"Education is the most pressing issue facing America. Preparing young people for success in life is not just an economic imperative. It's the moral obligation of a just society."
The CHS Educational Foundation is honored to present Michael C. Lach, Class of 1986, the 2010 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award for Education.