DANBURY, Conn. -- Western Connecticut State University graduate Frank LaBanca is set to serve as the principal of The Exploration Academies at Mill Ridge in Danbury.
LaBanca, a graduate of WCSU's doctoral program in instructional leadership, will start in February at The Exploration Academies at Mill Ridge, a new magnet middle school set to open in August.
He is director of the Director of the Center for 21st Century Skills at Education Connection and has worked with more than 40 K-12 schools in the state. He directs and manages the implementation of innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math programs in high schools across Connecticut.
The Exploration Academies promises to offer educational programming in the areas of STEM and Global Studies. The school will hold 600 middle school students from Danbury chosen through a lottery system.
The STEM Academy will focus on science, technology, engineering and math. The Global Studies Academy will focus on exploring critical international themes and issues that are occurring across the world and that have significant relevance to the lives of today’s students.
During his 16-year career in the classroom, LaBanca taught biology and applied science research at Stamford, Newtown, and Oxford High Schools. Twelve of his students have been nationally recognized for their work by: the Siemens Westinghouse Competition, the Intel Science Talent Search, the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and the National Stockholm Junior Water Prize.
He has been recognized as a National Education Association Innovation Teacher; a GTE GIFT (Growth Initiatives For Teachers) Fellow; a RadioShack National Teacher for Excellence in Science, Math, and Technology; and the Teachers’ Insurance Plan Teacher of the Year. He was also recognized by Discovery as the National Outstanding Classroom Blogger for his blog “Applied Science Research” in 2006 and his professional blog “In Search of Scientific Creativity” was recognized as a global finalist in the Best Teacher Blog category of the Edublog Awards in 2011.
Before moving into education, LaBanca worked on the Human Genome Project in a molecular genetics laboratory. He holds a bachelor's degree in biology, a master's in science education, and an doctorate in instructional leadership.
When not in the classroom, LaBanca can be found with his family at the water, hiking, sailing, kayaking, and exploring. He loves lighthouses and built a 5-foot scale model of the Black Rock Light in Bridgeport that was recently on display at the Norwalk Maritime Aquarium’s Festival of Lights.
For more information on The Exploration Academies at Mill Ridge, check out this story in The Daily Voice.