Stapp Inspires-One Step Ahead

Welcome back to Stapp Inspires Teacher Highlight! We are taking a trip back to the Innovation Center of St.Vrain Valley Schools to meet with Thom Ingram. Thom is an Instructional Technologist at the Innovation Center.


The Innovation Center fills a unique place within the district and the staff reflects that with their skill set and expertise. Thom is no different, having spent 10 years in higher education before working for Apple. After spending 10 years working for Apple he started his career as a high school English teacher. I asked him what took him from working at Apple to wanting to teach high school students. He chuckled and said, “My wife.”  His wife asked him if Apple was going to be his career. Being a poet by birth and training he knew eventually he wanted to teach high school students, and the question was why not now? After teaching English in Fairfax County, Virginia for two years, the opportunity to move to the St. Vrain Valley and be apart of the Innovation Center was presented to him. The rest, as they say, is history.

While I was meeting with Thom, I caught a small glimpse of what it would be like to be one of his students. A staff member from St. Vrain came in with an issue on her Macbook. She didn’t come up and ask Thom if he could fix it, she went right into the Tech Lab where two students were working and began discussing the issue with them. He excused himself and went to observe the student who was diagnosing the Macbook. It is worth noting that the students who work in the Tech Lab have taken a class at the Innovation Center to become Apple certified Mac technicians. When Thom was at Apple, he was a Creative, instructing customers on how to use their Apple products, and an Apple Genius, repairing customer’s devices. He has taken the same curriculum and teaches it to high school students. No other high school in the country has a similar program. While in the lab, another student is troubleshooting a robot that will not connect properly with an iPad. The student finds a solution, but Thom encourages the student to shut everything off and try again to ensure that the problem is truly fixed.

I asked him what was his favorite part of his job. Thom said, “To watch students in 8th or 9th grade, who are finding their place, and see them become 11th and 12th graders who are now confident enough to present their ideas to CEOs.” The growth and development of students inspires Thom. I made a comment that it must be difficult to try and keep up with the pace of technology and be able to continue to give students the real world experience that helps give students a competitive edge. He smiled at me and replied that he has never taught the same class twice. He paused a moment and followed up with, “Any job is hard if you don’t love it. Doing what you are meant to do is easy.”

Thom has a natural ability to install confidence in his students. His students are free to come up with ideas, try them out, and if they don’t work, try again. His quiet confidence in his students’ abilities allows them to succeed beyond what even they thought possible. He gets excited to give students real-world experiences in high school that will help them further their careers once they graduate from St. Vrain Valley Schools. He instills the idea that learning new things is exciting, fun and cool.

Thom, thank you for your dedication to your students. We wish you the best as the Innovation Center looks to grow and expand in the coming years.


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