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. 

IMG_3035

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! 

 

Advertisements

Stapp Inspires Educator Spotlight- A Mirror of the Intangible

Welcome back to our Stapp Inspires Educator Spotlight! If you are joining us for the first time, we are glad you found us. If you have been following us, thank you for keep coming back every month as we highlight different educators making a positive impact on St. Vrain Valley Schools. Every June is special, as we start another year of inspiring stories. This month we are headed to Westview Middle School to highlight Spanish and Computer Science Teacher, Monica Moreno-Martinez. This St. Vrain alumnus finished her 15th year teaching in May.

IMG_2822

Monica credits her parents and former Skyline English teacher, Roger Hebert, for inspiring her journey into teaching. Her parents encouraged her to continue, furthering her education and supported a strong work ethic. Mr. Hebert also sparked her interest and desire to go to college. Her goal has always been to come back to St.Vrain Valley Schools and give back to her community.  She has found a passion in education that will have lasting effects on generations to come.

 

One of Monica’s favorite classes is her Computer Science or STEM class. This past semester her class was comprised primarily of young Latina women. She said that she has been able to create a community for these students that is family-like. She relishes in her roll of being a cultural mirror to her students of what is possible for them. Her heart for these underrepresented populations can not be contained. Her excitement and passion to help her students is why her classroom is always full during passing periods, lunch, and after school.

 

A co-worker noticed this and encouraged Monica to launch Earth Explorers. This is a class meant to attract underrepresented youth in science fields which includes minorities and women. This class meets and works with scientists from labs such as CU and NOAA in order to see real science, math, and technology in action. Students experience the scientist’s labs first hand.

 

Monica explained the challenges she faced as a minority student and how she desires to be a role model for her students. She wants to be the teacher she needed when she was in middle school. This desire allows her to bring and celebrate not only her culture but her student’s culture into her classroom. Her classroom is a space where students can feel a sense of belonging and to learn that they have a cheerleader in their corner.

 

Monica’s concern and care for her students lasts long after her students leave middle school. She has been known to offer assistance in helping her former students find scholarships and navigate the college admissions process. She will always offer advice to anyone who asks for it. She finds satisfaction in teaching the intangibles and watching them succeed beyond her classroom.

 

I asked Monica for ‘the one thing’ she wanted her students to take away from her classroom. She responded, “Never lose sight of who you are and where you came from. Use the past to embrace new experiences. Reach for the stars and don’t let obstacles stand in your way. Find a way to see past them.”

 

Monica thank you for taking the time to share your heart for your students. We wish you another wonderful school year!