February 29, 2008

Inspiring 2008 Hero Nominee - Dr. Jack Gerlovich 

Dr. Jack Gerlovich, Nominated by Dennis McElroy, PhD, Asst. Professor of Education, Graceland University School of Education
Dr. Jack Gerlovich, Nelle Levvitt Professor of Education, Drake University School of Education, Des Moines, Iowa; Founded JaKel, Inc. in 1986, an Iowa registered corporation specializing in science education safety products and services for elementary, middle, junior high, high school, community college, and teacher preparation colleges.

Dr. Jack Gerlovich's primary area of research interest is in science safety. He has authored 8 books, 30 professional journal articles, and The Total Science Safety System CD-ROM's.

During the past 20 years, he has built custom state CD-ROM and training packages for 20 U.S states, addressing applicable laws, codes, and professional standards unique to each. In addition he has conducted 500 school safety assessments, served as a consultant to government agencies, private business, publishers, and the legal profession. He is past Chair for the Safety Advisory Board for the National Science Teachers Association.

Dr. Gerlovich has served as the State Science Supervisor for the Iowa Department of Education and as an Iowa science teacher. He was also been active in school science and mathematics education and computer networking and has received several grants from the National Science Foundation, State of Iowa, and private foundations.

Dr. McElroy wrote:

Jack is recognized by his peers across the country as our nation's top expert concerning science safety in the learning environment. In 1986 he founded JaKel, Inc. a science safety company that focuses on working with teachers to create the safest possible science learning environment...
Jack is an outstanding individual who has dedicated his life to the cause of science safety. I can think of no other person who is more deserving of this recognition.

I began working with Jack in 1999 and since then we have been contracted by 14 states to create a state specific version of the Total Science Safety System software and to provide training for teachers in those states.

JaKel works through the department of education in each state and collaborates with OSHA, the fire marshal and other safety personnel to personalize the software to the specific state. In two states, Tennessee and South Carolina, the software has been made an official state document. Of particular importance, there have been no serious science safety related accidents in any of the 14 states that are using the Total Science Safety System. Drake University has recognized Jack's contributions and uses him as an example of why students should come to Drake.

Champion of Safety (Excerpt from the article "Get Your Hands on This: School of Education professor's active approach creates a lasting impression.")

While education majors and elementary students are inspired by Gerlovich's inquiry-based activities, educators throughout the world know him as the expert to call when it comes to maintaining science safety in the classroom. "I'd start a Jack fan club if I could," says Clara Stallings, middle school science consultant for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. "He has single-handedly though he'd never say that transformed science safety in elementary and secondary classrooms."

As a father, Gerlovich worried about the safety of his two daughters in science classrooms cluttered with unmarked chemicals, outdated equipment and unclear or nonexistent procedures for safety and accident prevention. Many schools around the nation were simply not equipped to collect and standardize safety information according to state and industry specifications.

As a science educator, he decided to take action. Through his teachings at Drake and his company JaKel, Inc., Gerlovich researches and compiles requirements, guidelines and operating procedures, state by state.

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