EmpowerMINT is currently a consulting company, staffed by one person (me), focused on “Empowering learning through making, innovation, and technology.” It is my firm belief that creating student-centered classrooms equipped with appropriate tools and support, where teachers are trusted to empower student voice and choice, will lead to the best outcomes for all students.
At its heart, EmpowerMINT is much more than a consulting company. I want to be supportive and relevant to any and all educators who hope to bring innovation into the classroom to support student success. I aim to build a collection of resources for those who are looking to adventure into integrating making and technology into their classrooms, tips from those who have already started to form those paths, and peeks at the latest technologies and how they can support our students. I hope to build a community within EmpowerMINT that joins in partnership with the educational communities that already exist.1
I am starting EmpowerMINT now because I believe my experiences over the last decade have provided me with a unique perspective to support the integration of making and technology into the classroom. I have worked as an elementary and middle school teacher using a scripted curriculum as well as a workshop model integrating the Common Core State Standards. I moved into a district role as a STEM Coordinator, creating a set of makerspaces and leading a team of teachers who contributed to the district's technology decisions and provided insights that only someone working in the classroom every day could see. Most recently, I served as Director of Curriculum and Instruction, working closely with the Technology, Special Education and Business departments to expand how making and technology was integrated into our classrooms. I sat as a part of our district's Executive Cabinet, which allowed me to learn how the decision making process can take place in a district and what factors someone looking to make change needs to be aware of in their efforts. I have consulted for emerging and established EdTech companies, learning what it means to provide quality support to educators and how the feedback from educators can positively shape a product.2I also continue to serve on the Silicon Valley CUE Board of Directors, supporting our annual Teach Through Technology event which caters to educators throughout the SF Bay Area.
I want the resources I develop to be shared with as many educators as possible. For that reason, I plan to use a Creative Commons license to freely share my work. I know that there will be some clients who do not agree with freely distributing content, and partnering to complete the work may lead to a compromise in how freely materials are shared. Regardless, I will emphasize the value of Creative Commons licensing to those who I work with, as it is up to each of us to support the education community in doing what’s best for all students.
EmpowerMINT will likely evolve from its current form (a single-person consulting company) and take other shapes in the future. No matter the evolution though, EmpowerMINT will always be focused first and foremost on supporting student success, especially for students who are traditionally underserved. I will work hard to stay connected to the realities of our schools, especially public schools serving low-income students.
1 No, I’m not developing an app or social network. There are already so many of those and I’d like to make things easier for educators as much as possible.
2 EmpowerMINT will not hawk educational technology products based on free samples or quid pro quo. I have and will continue to consult with educational technology companies and review their products, but I will not allow those relationships to influence what I recommend to teachers and schools. If I receive a free copy of a book or discount on a product I write about or discuss with a client, I will be fully transparent. Schools are not in need of more salespeople, no matter how many new products are available. In fact, the more products that are out there, the less salespeople are needed and the more that device-agnostic and company-agnostic partners are needed to support the decision-making process.
* Cross-posted on Medium.