Changing Positions, But Not Changing Goals

Thirteen months ago, I set out ‘on my own’ to start EmpowerMINT, where I would focus on “Empowering learning through making, innovation, and technology.” Through EmpowerMINT, I set out “to be supportive and relevant to any and all educators who hope to bring innovation into the classroom to support student success”. Today, EmpowerMINT is scaling back as I take on these goals through a new role at San Mateo County Office of Education (SMCOE) as the Innovative Learning & Technology Integration Coordinator.

Over the past year, I’ve worked with several schools and organizations, including Krause Center of Innovation (KCI) at Foothill College, Union School District, Saratoga Union School District, Rio Salado College, New Teacher Center, and SMCOE. Working with the people in each organization has been a fantastic experience and I am so thankful for each opportunity. It was also refreshing to have some flexibility over my schedule after several time-intensive stress-inducing years in district administration.

My most intensive work was with KCI and with SMCOE, both focused on building educational makerspaces, in community college and K-12, respectively. Working with Kyle Brumbaugh and the KCI/Foothill team has been a blast as we envisioned how a makerspace could support an entire community, wrote a state grant, and received funding for up to $500,000. I do feel some guilt and sadness at not being available much going forward for that team, but I also know that they have a strong team and I will do what I can to help them see success.

With my SMCOE colleague (and mentor) Bruce Duncan moving over to Burlingame School District as the Director of Innovation, Teaching and Learning, a full-time position in the SMCOE STEM Center opened up over the past few weeks. We reworked the job description to fit more closely with my EmpowerMINT goals, specifically supporting equity and student-centered classrooms, and I eagerly jumped into being a full member of the STEAM Team. This position will allow me to move forward on these goals, with a focus on the 95,000+ students in 23 districts across San Mateo County.

EmpowerMINT is not closing shop, as my work with SMCOE will be a 90% role to allow for some flexibility in where my time is spent, but it does mean that I will not be taking on any large projects in the coming year(s) as I focus on supporting students and educators in San Mateo County. I will definitely catch up with my backlog of created/found artifacts that I used with schools as we worked on building makerspaces last year and will continue to share materials I create outside of work hours and those which I am able to share from my work at SMCOE. (I still believe in and will push for Creative Commons licensing, even within my new role.)

Thanks to everyone for your support this past year with EmpowerMINT. I look forward to continuing to make an impact and share with the community in this new role.

Out and about at Maker Faire 2017, promoting the Making Spaces initiative based out of SMCOE.