American Boat and Yacht Council honors Spencer as Educator of the Year

Stephen Spencer, Educator of the Year

Stephen Spencer, the lead instructor for Palm Beach State College’s Marine Service Technology program, has received the Educator of the Year award from ABYC Foundation, a division of the American Boat and Yacht Council. According to the organization’s website, this first-time award was established to “honor extraordinary instructors who are shaping future marine service technicians.”

“We are excited to see such a strong pool of candidates for the first ABYC Foundation Educator of the Year award,” said ABYC Foundation executive director Margaret Podlich. “These winners represent the best instructors in the Northern Hemisphere, cultivating and training the aspiring workforce that the marine industry—and boaters—are relying on.”

The American Boat and Yacht Council offers professional certifications for marine service technicians as well as a comprehensive curriculum used by colleges and technical schools to train new marine service technicians. PBSC has integrated the ABYC curriculum, which is based on national industry standards, with the Florida state framework to prepare the marine service technicians that are greatly needed in Palm Beach County and throughout the country.
Stephen Spencer and Eligio Marquez Jr. after the Zoom ceremony, which was attended by ABYC Foundation executive director Margaret Podlich, students, colleagues and other ABYC officials.

Spencer, who also earned a NISOD Excellence Award this year, played an indispensable role in the August 2019 launch of the Marine Service Technology program. He had been a key instructor in PBSC’s automotive and diesel programs since 2015, but it was his 31-year career in the U.S. Coast Guard, where as a machinery technician he rose to the rank of Command Master Chief, that made the new program a perfect fit.

“My goal is training technicians. It’s my way of paying it forward,” Spencer said when thanking Podlich during a surprise Zoom award ceremony Nov. 30, organized by PBSC Transportation Service Technology program director Eligio Marquez Jr.

Marquez credits Spencer for getting the program up and running and meeting the challenges of graduating the first class of 14 students this fall, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Stephen is a great asset,” Marquez said. “When anything needs created or done, he steps up and accomplishes it. His knowledge and experience are of much value to the whole department, and he is very well respected by the industry and colleagues here at the College.”
Students Richard Vincent and Bailey Drake spend time with Stephen Spencer in the Marine Service Technology program lab.

At the Zoom ceremony, Spencer received an engraved crystal award, a Harbor Freight gift certificate, a free ABYC professional certification class, free registration for the next ABYC Educator Training Conference—and more praise.

“We wish we could just clone you because we need you everywhere,” Podlich said. “You’ve made such an amazing difference. This award is a thank you for what you have done, but it’s also encouragement for what you’re doing right now and the future that you are giving to all these students. Palm Beach State is very lucky—they’ve got the best educator in their classroom.”

ABYC Foundation also named two runners up: Ryan Ramsey, who is in his ninth year of teaching marine service technology at the Impact Institute, serving five counties in Indiana, and Maurice Marchand, who has served in the merchant fleet, the U.S. Navy, and as a marine technology educator, currently at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College in the British Virgin Islands.

To learn more about the award recipients and the ABYC Foundation’s work with educators, visit

The next Marine Service Technology class begins Jan.  25. Anyone interested in learning more about the program should register for the free virtual information session on Jan. 6.
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3 comments on “American Boat and Yacht Council honors Spencer as Educator of the Year”

  1. A well-deserved honor for a dedicated, committed instructor to our students. This new program ‘launched’ this year (2020) with exciting opportunities for job growth and personal growth. Congratulations, Steve!!! Kudos!!! so proud of you.

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