RPS academy coach Chris Magee a top ‘Catalyst’

The Rockford Chamber of Commerce has formally recognized what the Rockford Public Schools has known for a long time: Chris Magee is a force of nature.

Magee was honored as the Business Catalyst of the Year at the Celebration of Manufacturing Expo & Dinner at Cliffbreakers. Magee’s job at Guilford High School is the College and Career Academy coach. But it’s just one of the many hats she wears: robotics mentor, Lego team

Members of Jefferson High School's FIRST robotics team. Chris Magee helped establish the team, the first in the Rockford Pubilc Schools.

Members of Jefferson High School’s FIRST robotics team. Chris Magee helped establish the team, the first in the Rockford Public Schools.

builder and cheerleader, “Surgeons of Steel” crusader. (“Surgeons” is a program that introduces students to careers in manufacturing.) Magee brought the “Surgeons” program to Eisenhower Middle School when she taught there and has played an integral role in expanding it to all 205 middle schools this year.

When you talk with Magee, it’s clear that manufacturing is a passion, although her science background is well-rounded: She has a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry and has a master’s degree in environmental education. She taught physics for nearly a decade.

I haven’t watched Magee teach, but her laser focus, curiosity and enthusiasm seem like the perfect fit for young people finding themselves. She is especially interested in introducing women and minorities to manufacturing and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers. Magee wants young people to know that manufacturing is not a dirty, “shop” field but a well-paying profession that requires problem-solving and high-tech skills. There are more jobs than people qualified to fill them.

Manufacturing business owner and RRS blogger Bob Trojan nominated Magee for the Catalyst award, along with Dave Carson, Executive Director of College and Career Readiness for RPS. Trojan wishes the Rockford area, so rich in opportunities in manufacturing, had about 50 Chris Magees. “We need to clone her,” Trojan said.

I’d bet that if you handed the cloning job to Magee, she’d get it done.

Mary Kaull is communications coordinator for the Rockford Public Schools.