When I first received the call, I admit, it was as if it was a scene straight from Friends, where the girls squeal and anyone who happens to, unfortunately, be around at that time has NO idea what has just happened. Similarly, I squealed, I jumped, I called and e-mailed all of those who supported me…and then I thought, “wait. What have I just gotten myself into?”
Granted, I had no idea at that very moment how much the Kenan Fellowship would transform my instructional design, or capacity as a leader. Let alone my workload.
I first heard of the Kenan Fellowship from a close Professor over a year ago, and initially shrugged if off as, “more qualified teachers than myself get that. There is no way I have a shot.” From the comment, you can gauge I did not pursue the Kenan route the first time. However, it would be nearly a year later that the same opportunity presented itself to me from an individual whom I highly respect within the local school district. At that point, I still thought, “I have no shot. But I guess I won’t know until I try. There must be a reason I keep hearing about it.” So I shot a few darts, and surprisingly, one turned into a bulls-eye! Initially, when applying for the fellowship, there were only general ones for the region in which I work; so I thought, “why not. Write your own!” And I did for the following reason: I recently had taken a group of students to Wake Forest University’s Regenerative Institute (WFIRM), and desired for them to see first-hand how the concepts within the classroom are so real around us, and… just incredibly innovative! I wanted them to see beyond the classroom walls, steps within the science realm often lead to the betterment of lives for those close to us, and those whom we may never meet.
That being said, I wrote a proposal in hopes of tying engineering to the conceptual framework of our county for grades 6-8. Yet, what I ended up with in that bulls-eye throw was something much more than I could have imagined.
Specifically, my fellowship is entitled “Partnering to Enable Innovative Teaching Practices.” Basically, a long-winded title which means I have the opportunity to merge the local community with the nearby school system, transforming our instructional strategies! I have the unique experience to collaborate with Novant Health and Lenovo, to create a foundation of STEM literacy, and strategies within classroom environments. More so, it provides the opportunity to expound upon professional development (PD) through unique mediums for the staff within my county.
Yet, and all the reason which I applied for the fellowship, it has the immense opportunity to impact students for years to come. One of my hopes when I began teaching was to inspire individuals, whether staff or students, to risk in pursuit of betterment. If we can risk more, we can grow more, and therefore do more for our community. It is my greatest desire to bring the community into the classroom for the students; to not limit or define a child’s educational experience by the classroom walls. With that being said, the greatest impact this fellowship may bring is the fuel necessary to transform the practices of other science educators, in order to fuel our students passion for STEM professions with the local community. It is my belief that a school is only as strong as its community, and we must be willing to blur the lines…we must be willing to connect with those around us for our students’ behalf. Therefore, ultimately, my hope is to solidify a strong partnership between Novant and our district.
Earlier this week, I had to pleasure of meeting with several individuals from Novant to begin the process of solidifying a foundation for this partnership. The result is, as I am thrilled to say, what will be an incredible growth and risk taking experience for myself, the staff whom I work with, and our students. I will be meeting with each department leader, learning about their expertise, necessary skill sets, successes, and challenges of their job. From there, I will narrow down several departments to further gain experience in. And with that…the hope is to bring the following plan, shown below, to life!
With all that being said, I hope you follow me on this journey!
The following is a preliminary Kenan Fellowship plan. Click the image below to enlarge.