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I really enjoy reading quotes. I find them to be so inspirational. I especially love reading the quotes that people use as their tagline on their email. I think that we can learn so much about the way a person views the world by the quote that they select. My email tagline and my (current) favorite quote is “impossible means we just haven’t found the solution yet.” I frame everything I do through the lens of that quote.

I was a Clay County teacher, then a district science specialist, and finally a district administrator in the area of STEM education. In that capacity, I developed robotics programs in most of our 42 schools and helped bring coding to our region through my relationship with Gary Chartrand and the STEM2 Hub. As that work grew, I knew that I could have more impact if I moved to a different role serving the community.

I now have the privilege of leading the northeast Florida STEM2 Hub. I work in the space between the needs of the corporate communities for talent and the school systems that fill the demand. I work as a disruptive agent, thinking through a systems lens and working toward a common vision. I am a connector, looking around the community pulling all the pieces together so that we develop a well-functioning STEM ecosystem where partners work together instead of in silos to bring the very best experiences for all our stakeholders. Especially our students.

When I think about our Northeast Florida ecosystem, I am struck by challenges that we will face together due to new technologies and automation. The workforce implications are enormous, and the talent needed to fill the job just simply is not available. The impact that artificial intelligence and machine learning will have — is already having — is tremendous. The implications of virtual and mixed reality will change the workforce and medical fields in ways that we have not even begun to imagine.

As the jobs of the future are rapidly changing, we are obligated to keep our eyes looking forward, so that we make sure our students are prepared.  But there are implications beyond just the world of work. As exciting as I find these technologies, I simultaneously take a step back and wonder what new problems will be created that we will need to solve. And I wonder who will solve them. Our children, of course. So, we owe it to them to create stronger pathways and insist on excellence.  This is why I am so personally committed to my work at the STEM2 Hub where our mission truly speaks to the heart of our efforts.

Our Mission: We convene, inspire, and invest in the STEM2 field by providing the essential missing elements to accelerate the growth of STEM2 education and careers.
To accomplish our mission, we work across all areas of the ecosystem, from the classroom to the superintendent’s office; from coding on the carpet with kindergarteners to bringing HoloLens and other mixed reality technologies to schools serving our most at-risk students; from mentoring a group of girls in IT to advocating for education policies that will empower schools to do the right work to create future-ready students.

I have a deep belief that technology has the potential to level the playing field for our children because so many of these tools are so new that no one specific group has all the advantages yet. But that promise will change quickly, and technology could become the greatest social divider without people like me waking up every day committed to making sure that nobody is left out.

To access all students, we must work through our schools, informal learning spaces, and with our partners who are providing after school and summer programs. Every school needs to be empowered to offer high-quality computer science courses, robotics programs, rigorous math and science classes, that include application through immersive problem-based learning opportunities. Students should learn about artificial intelligence, machine learning, the physics of computing, and big data applications. The ability to synthesize knowledge and use it to solve a unique problem is the most critical skill that kids will need to be successful in the world that they are going to live in. I won’t rest until all children have these opportunities, and they are seamlessly infused into the school day. Once that occurs, we will really begin to see equity.

I think by working together in STEM ecosystems, we can accomplish these things. We must partner and bring our best to the table. Whether it is your talent, your funding, your time – serving as a thought partner, advocating for policy or mentoring kids, we can only accomplish the best for our city and our region by working together. We are making a difference, by disrupting the system and changing the status quo. What inspires you? Your favorite quote? Call me. Get involved!

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