Stapp Inspires Educator Highlight – Diffusion of Innovation 

Summer might be in full swing, but that doesn’t mean we are on vacation from our Stapp Inspires Educator Highlight Series! This month we are so excited to introduce everyone to Kristen Brohm. Kristen is the Innovation Center’s (IC) STEM Project Manager, and she focuses on students from preschool to fifth grade. Kristen has been an educator in the district for 12 years, having first taught kindergarten and first grade before taking on the role of STEM Coordinator for Northridge and Alpine Elementary Schools. We had the chance to meet with Kristen and quickly discovered what a dynamic person she is. 

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Kristen has charisma that naturally draws people to her and puts them at ease. She has an energy and excitement that is contagious when she speaks about bringing STEM to the youngest students in the district. This drive comes from her belief that each student has the potential to change their world. Every child has ideas that are relevant to their world and their ideas matter. Kristen looks for ways to encourage students to make that connection to their world and how they can impact it. 

 

Bringing younger students to the Innovation Center is a relatively new practice. This was the first year to incorporate a third grade field trip to the IC. In connection with the Longmont Museum, a Past, Present, and Future field trip was planned out. Students learned about the history and geography of Longmont and then traveled to the Innovation Center to complete their field trip. At the IC they learned about a current problem facing the city and came up with ideas on how to solve it. Back in the classroom students would then write a paragraph on the solutions they came up with. These were then forwarded to different members of the community for consideration. This experience is two fold. One, students are able to make a connection to their community and help take ownership. The second is to expose students at a young age to the Innovation Center, so as they grow they are able to take full advantage of what programs are available to them. 

 

Another aspect of Kristen’s job, especially with elementary teachers, is to help them understand and implement different aspects of a STEM program into their classrooms. Kristen and her team also lead professional development teams to help implement the STEM standards the district has. Kristen noted that unlike in middle or high school, where there are specialized tracks and classes, students stay together in the same classroom. So how do you bring computer science, down to an elementary level? By encouraging teachers to change a little bit of their vocabulary throughout the day. By giving a name to what is always being taught, patterns at calendar time, teachers are able to expose and highlight different aspects of STEM. Students do not have the fear or the “I can’t do it, it’s too hard” mentality when they get to specialized classes. They have been learning for years, offline and can transfer those skills online. 

 

Kristen has several other projects that she is currently working on, The Teacher’s Guild, developing assessment metrics, and defining what field trips to the IC look like are just a few she mentioned. What stood out was her passion to tackle all of these and more. Kristen is the type of person that you walk away feeling encouraged and inspired to improve. She believes that everyone can grow from failure. You get the sense you could come to her with a struggle or failure and she would be understanding, supportive and your biggest cheerleader. Kristen has a certain grace and humbleness about her. She spoke of how she loves to create something, get it up and running, and pass it own to let another make it their own and repeat the cycle. 

 

Kristen, thank you so much for taking the time to meet with us. It was an honor to see your dedication and passion for what you do. We wish you the best upcoming school year! 

 

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