My ability to embrace an innovative mindset was gifted to me by my parents. I relished watching them build a life on their terms. With his own two hands my father built our family home, while my mom patiently nurtured her dream of a large family. I therefore cannot claim that my innovative habits stem from my own doing.
Nearly four and a half years after winning the Presidential Innovation Award from the White House and EPA, I’m just now embracing this role. I’ve spent the past few years building a solid platform that unequivocally proves that teaching in the real-world works. So, how do I plan on launching this platform and inspiring change? As a middle school teacher I’m keenly aware of what reaches both teachers and students….young adult novels.
Daily I watch my students sneak YA books into my room, hiding them under the desk. I’m forced to redirect them away from voraciously consuming novels in an effort to encourage them to create and innovate themselves. So, this is where I plan to hit them, by taking the real stories of students and publishing them into a young adult novel series.
Years of unleashing my seventh grade science students onto the real world and immersing their learning in solving real world problems has resulted in surprising achievements. From helping to save a local botanical preserve to creating a non-profit dedicated to environmental education, these kids are innovators. But, the journey to publication will be my toughest challenge yet, and I’ve faced some doosies!
So, digging deep for the long ride to publication is my journey. The first story of the series, WinklerWarriors is in the editing stages and could be for years to come. But, I dedicate myself to this path because I have no choice, such is the writer’s life that I have come to love. I’m grateful to be surrounded by supporters through this journey; fellow educators, writers and former students who have witnessed what is capable when learning takes place in the real world. To all of my supporters I say…..I will get there soon!