Celebrating Innovation in Education

Celebrating Innovation in Education
Posted on 06/09/2016

By Carrie Sterrs, Coordinator of Public Relations and Special Projects

“It is those leaders who thrust their ideas into action that are truly innovators,” said Superintendent Dr. Jerry Wilson at the second annual Celebrating Innovation luncheon, hosted at Worcester Technical High School. He addressed the honorees, thanking them for the opportunity to recognize their creativity and dedication to making real improvement within their classrooms and schools.

As teachers struggle to do more with less amid reforms, mandates, and initiatives in the field of education, the implementation of a recognition program which promotes improvement through innovative practices and processes is one small action to help celebrate the school system’s exceptional staff.

Continual improvement through innovation is an overriding theme associated with Worcester County Public School’s Worcester 2016 strategic direction. “Change is inevitable, and can serve as a powerful incentive for improvement,” said 2016 Worcester County Teacher of the Year Kristina Belcher. “Change comes from innovation, and innovation can lead to progress.”

Currently in its second year, the Celebrating Innovation program generated 19 award-winning applications, representing 8 of our 14 schools. Each application was evaluated by a selection committee on the innovation’s utility, creativity, feasibility, efficacy, results, and ability to be replicated.

Some of the innovations which were recognized at the luncheon involved implementing practices for the first time in the county. Capitalizing on the “maker” movement, Brittany Hulme-Tignor designed and implemented the first Makerspace in Worcester County at Snow Hill Middle School. Through Makerspace, students have explored 3D printing, circuitry, video game design, crochet and more.

In one case, the physical structure of a classroom contributed to student learning, earning recognition for Culinary Arts instructor Phil Cropper. He secured funding to turn an underutilized classroom space into a live demonstration space, complete with retrofitted technology to allow students to view in person and through the SMART board and television culinary techniques while applying the knowledge at their own worktable in the space.

Other innovations involved creating partnerships with outside organizations to further student understanding of a subject. Worcester Technical High School forensic science teacher Michael Levy partnered with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Extension Service to conduct a three-day DNA fingerprinting lab study. This immersive experience enabled students to apply their knowledge in an authentic, real-world learning task.

Celebrating Innovation projects earned a plaque and each recipient was presented with a certificate. Photographs of the event can be accessed from our website’s homepage (www.worcesterk12.com) by clicking on the Shutterfly icon. The lunch meal was prepared and served by Culinary Arts and Worcester Tech students, under the direction of Chef Cropper. A complete listing of projects can be found at http://www.worcesterk12.com/faculty-staff/teacher-recognition/celebrating-innovation.

Celebrating innovation is about more than inspiring ideas, Dr. Wilson told the audience. “As innovators, you are putting ideas for improvement into action. That is truly the key.”

If you have questions about the Celebrating Innovation Recognition Program, please contact me at 410-632-5092.