Soon after arriving in Goochland this past July, Jeremy Raley, Goochland’s new superintendent, floated an idea of offering grant opportunities to teachers to see what was possible when it came to trying to innovate with instruction. The leadership team focused the idea around opportunities for deeper learning, and a committee led by Chuck English of the Science Museum of Virginia evaluated teacher-created applications for innovative projects. Thanks to the Goochland Education Foundation, roughly $10,000 was awarded to groups of teachers to implement their project ideas.
“This was a great example of us trying to tell teachers to take chances and see what might happen. There was no guarantee every project would work out, but that’s how you innovate. We take chances,” said John Hendron, Goochland’s Director of Innovation and Strategy.
The culminating event was a 2-day symposium that also included teachers who wanted to participate at the end of the year. We were thankful to have county leaders present too, including Susan Lascolette (District 1) and Manuel Alvarez, Jr. (District 2), and county administrator, John Budesky.
June 6, 2017 was the first day of the symposium which included a screening of the movie Design Disruptors, exploring careers involving design thinking. The film exposed educators to the role design has in the modern economy as a disruptive force. A panel discussed the film and its connection to education, which included Kevin Hazzard, a member of Goochland’s school board. Dr. Scott Bray from the University of Richmond was the moderator of the panel.
The keynote speaker for the event was Dr. William Rankin, an internationally-recognized education consultant, who formerly has held positions as an English professor and as director of learning for Apple. Rankin delivered an entertaining address about learning and how technology should be used appropriately in the classroom to engage learners. His ideas resonated with over fifty Goochland educators present at the event.
A design roundtable finished the first day, designed to help teachers synthesize a number of diverse ideas shared throughout the first day. “Teachers could have spent their last day of school closing out the year, but these folks chose to make a difference and participate in a unique professional development event. The energy and enthusiasm around the ideas of innovation were impressive outcomes of this event,” said superintendent, Jeremy Raley.
The second day was more creative and fun. Teachers participated in two activities in downtown Richmond. One was a historical Segway tour. One of the groups got an impromptu photo-op with Governor Terry McAuliffe outside the Virginia Governor’s Mansion. The second team-building activity was a photo-walk, where teachers were challenged with using the camera creatively to encourage an inquiry mindset.
Also enthusiastic about the symposium was Stephen Geyer, Goochland’s assistant superintendent of instruction. “At the end of this year, it was clear that every grant project had strong merits for Goochland students. We can’t wait to see what our teachers dream up in the school year to come!”
You can view the slides used for teacher Ignite presentations below, describing each of the grant projects.
- Osmo at Randolph Elementary
- Secondary Complex Archery Range
- Brewing Justice at RES
- How can we conserve, preserve, and protect our home?
- Rangers to the Rescue at RES
- Ozobots Leading the Way at GES
- LEGO Story Starters at GES
Our thanks go out to the volunteers who served on our panel, to our teachers who participated in the symposium, and to the grant awardees for their courage and creativity in bringing new learning experiences to our students!