A Culture of Innovation

Eco-writing students on their canoe trip

A Culture of Innovation

Study immigration issues at the border with the Christian Brothers? Yes.

Start a summer class for nature writers at Lake of the Woods? Yes.

Attend a conference on Positive Behavior Interventions or Standards Based Grading? Yes.

Hire another Learning Specialist? Yes.

These are just a few wishes I have been granted since starting here at BSM nine years ago. I love that about my job. The culture of innovation that encourages faculty to grow and try new things is strong. And as a result, my colleagues are some of the smartest, most interesting people I have ever met and have the pleasure to work with. We are fortunate to hear yes a lot. We are encouraged to stretch and experiment, and our students are better off for it. 

I wear a couple of hats at BSM, which gives me the opportunity to see this innovation in action in many different places throughout the school. As part of the junior high faculty, I have traveled to Boston, Washington D.C., the Civil Rights South and Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center. On each trip, the teachers in charge have asked for feedback on how it could be better. They have a great thing going and are always working to improve it. I witness veteran teachers spending hours in the summer revamping their curriculum. These are people who could now, after years of honing their craft, rest all summer and still teach an amazing class. Instead, they are constantly innovating and trying new things. In the past two years, the junior high has added a wellness program, a second Learning Lab for 7th graders, a mission trip for girls, a community garden, the opportunity to participate in a Model United Nations and a Positive Behavior Intervention program. These innovations help create a climate for students to grow outside the classroom

In my role as Director of Learning Support, I have been added to many committees. It can be both a blessing and a curse for sure. However, in each meeting I attend, I see evidence that our community is working to hear many voices. Do we have room to improve on that? Absolutely.  By being a voice for students with diverse cognitive needs, mine is added to the chorus of people who form policies, drive professional development and support our students. These include classroom teachers, counselors, affinity group leaders, spiritual leaders and administration, all of whom lend a unique perspective. We have improved the diversity of voices we listen to, and this will continue to drive innovation.

We all like to hear the word yes. For me, working in a community that values new ideas and supports positive change is what gets me excited to come to work each day. Change may happen too fast for some, and not fast enough for others, but the spirit of BSM is one of growth for both our students and our faculty. I am so thankful to be a part this innovative community. From the spirited debates in the junior high office, to the tears shed at the Senior High Student Support Team meetings, to the absurd humor that comes with a classroom full of 13 year olds, my job is never boring. And yes, I really enjoy 13-year-old humor.