Spotlight Innovator Carrie Wilson-Herndon
We are excited to introduce you to ITEF’s next Spotlight Innovator:
Meet Carrie Wilson-Herndon, ITEF’s newest Spotlight innovator! Carrie will be teaching science at Whitfield School, starting in the fall of 2017. Prior to that, Carrie has been a science teacher at Metro East Montessori, where she received an ITEF grant in 2016 for a project called “FARMakerspace”. The project was a farm experience designed to teach problem-solving in an agriculture-centered environment.
Carrie teaches robotics, algebra, biology, chemistry, physics and more. “We live in a beautiful world, full of awe and mystery,” she says. “Teaching in science and math allows me to explore this world with my students, finding answers to questions while posing new questions.”
You can get to know more about Carrie in the following conversation:
How do you define innovation? Innovation is a process of defining a problem and finding novel, unique methods to solve that problem. It is a process that allows for an individual to improve upon a design, to invent something entirely new, to define and redefine both existing and nonexistent problems. The ability to be innovative requires one to work outside of the box, to be creative, to collaborate, to be willing to fail, to gain new and unique insights into the processes that exist in nature, in life, in and in business applications. I think of innovative teachers as ones that work on the cutting edge of learning, someone that inspires, guides, promotes personal growth and is ever changing their path. Innovative teachers are not the “sage on the stage” that provide lessons where new knowledge is “dumped” into the brains of unsuspecting children. Innovative teachers don’t plan lessons weeks in advance – that would be too limiting and restrictive. Innovative teachers foster independence, and intrinsic motivation, and celebrate failure, grit, and perseverance.
Who is your tech role model? OR what is your favorite tech toy right now? My kids are my tech role models. They can figure out how to take apart and retrofit Nerf guns, build robots, and most importantly they know how to work the TV remote better than me!
If you had the time and money, what issue/solution would you work on? There are multiple issues in the world that we share with so many. If I had a magic wand (or infinite amounts of time and money) I would attempt to right and correct every injustice that occurs; from child abuse, drug addictions, mental illnesses, pollution, violence against people and animals, prejudice, and then work to find cures for childhood cancers, genetic conditions, and all things that cause pain amongst children. Then there is the environment; pollution and exploitation of our natural resources are concerns of mine, the uneven distribution of wealth is also an issue that needs to be addressed. There are people living in poverty in our world while others have multiple homes to live and vacation in. How can this be justified?
What did you care about most when you were 10 years old? When I was ten years old, my classroom had incubated fertilized chicken eggs. I think that I cared deeply about those baby chicks!
What’s your favorite App or website? Currently, I am in love with HHMI Biointeractive.
What mindsets, qualities, or talents have you found to characterize top innovators you admire? Students and individuals with intrinsic motivation tend to become the best innovators. Some people are eager to learn for the sake of learning – not for their share of a big paycheck, bonus, or recognition of earning an “A.” I admire individuals that can create something new which will help humanity, our world, our planet. People that choose to serve others rather than serve themselves are the people that I most admire. Greed rarely serves more than one person.
What are you currently reading? I am reading “What a Fish Knows” by Jonathan Balcombe. I am learning that fish deserve more credit than we give them. I just finished reading “Creating Innovators” by Tony Wagner.
What innovative thinker/educator/ambassador would like to bring to STL to spend time with educators? I am interested in learning more from Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith. I would like to think that these two individuals are at the pivotal turning point that will change the focus and methods in which we teach in American schools.
Give us a couple of your favorite quotes.
Gandhi – “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Max Erhman – “Go placidly amidst the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence.”
Einstein – “Most teachers waste their time by asking questions that are intended to discover what a pupil does not know, whereas the true art of questioning is to discover what the pupil does know or is capable of knowing.”
Is there anything else you wish we would have asked you? Yes, here is my philosophy on teaching; Most American schools currently have a razor sharp focus on standardized testing, on memorizing content, on taking and passing AP exams, on Common Core, on measuring the success of our students using the same ruler. We have lost what should really matter in terms of education. We operate under the principles of the industrialized model of education: yet we as a society have surpassed the industrialized revolution. Schools should not be factories for learning, rather schools should be places where innovation, creativity, collaboration, organization, and citizenship skills should be developed, all at the pace that is appropriate for each individual child. In our day and age, knowledge no longer dictates power rather, what we can do with knowledge, that is what becomes powerful. Too many teachers tell me, “I can’t do that because I have too much content to cover.” I say drop the need to control and dictate what students learn and let the students explore, they will become more engaged in their learning and retain the information much more! Learning should not be contained to a classroom.