The Product. The Experience.

As a Kenan Fellow, my internship experience is just one component of the overall potential end result. It’s a huge component however, because ultimately it is the spark necessary to fuel or inspire my product. So just what is the “product?” Well, I have asked myself that question over and over since our week-long PD at NCCAT (North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teachers). Basically, each Kenan Fellow is tasked with creating authentic instructional resources for our students that will be shared with other educators in our school, district, and state.


I have had no shortage of ideas. In fact, as an art educator, I could probably generate a never ending list of possible products. What I have found most challenging however, is the narrowing down and refinement. It seems that just when I think I know what I want to do, I second guess myself and rethink things. While at NCCAT I began my brainstorm list. Needless to say, I’ve added and deleted ideas, but have finally narrowed things down to three potential products. There is one that I definitely want to do for my school in particular and one that would reach the school as a whole, as well as the district and potentially beyond.


This is definitely the more rewarding part of the process. I feel like have an infinite amount of resources at my fingertips. Everyone I have met thus far has been amazing and has extended an offer to help in any way possible. I’ve also been linked to some potentially amazing opportunities as well. In terms of the two components of my product, the first component, which is the one I want to begin at my school, is to create a visiting artist speaker’s network of sorts. Specifically I am interested bringing in non-conventional artists who tie directly into STEM fields. It would be great to have artists that use technology (new media designers), math (op art), and science (assemblage, recyclables) to come in and talk to students on how they were inspired to do what they do. This will allow those creative young people like me to have a glimpse into future possibilities that they currently have no idea of. The component I envision for the district and beyond, is to design and produce a STEAM based role playing game for elementary classroom teachers.I think both parts would yield a necessary additional piece to STEM focused learning.

Other than that, I’m also excited about being a presenter at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Professional Learning Symposium for the Visual Arts STEAM inservice on August 20. Hopefully it will be an excellent opportunity to be able to speak with other art educators and gain more insight and ideas from them.

Now, I just have to remind myself that while this is the beginning phase, and that I definitely need to pace myself. Onward…

Behind the Scenes: An Internship Update

Pop Quiz

1. What is the name of the fifth tallest roller coaster in the world?
2. What amusement park spans across two neighboring states?


Fury 325 is the fifth tallest, and fifth longest steel roller caster in the world, and is part of Carowinds amusement park. “Carowinds is the place where the Carolinas come together.” It’s located off I-77 (Exit 90) at the North Carolina/South Carolina border.

The first few days of my internship at Carowinds took place within the fourth of July holiday week. Though it was a while ago, in those four days, it became clear that I would not be able to look at an amusement park in the same way as I used to. I mean, I experienced parks like everyone else — on the surface level only. The key goal being — to have fun. So my focus has always been on enjoying the rides, games, entertainment and food. However, having a quick glimpse into the amount of behind the scenes planning, collaboration, communication, technology, art, craft, design, science, math, engineering and building that takes place throughout the course of each year in preparation for the open season has been truly eye-opening.

Thus far I’ve spent time learning about the different areas of operations — from firsthand park experience and the marketing call center, to the ins and outs of the water park. Each area takes an extreme amount of knowledge, skill, preparation (before and after closing), patience and constant learning to keep up with  North Carolina and South Carolina regulations and requirements. There’s no doubt about it, our students need to understand that learning is an ongoing process. You simply cannot grow without expanding your knowledge. While planning and problem solving are must have skill sets for 21st century learning, so I definitely want to include both to areas I intend to focus on this school year.

Thankfully I still have some time left to experience other areas of operation, so I’m wondering what additional takeaways I’ll gather.

What a Week!

So many takeaways

This week has been absolutely amazing in every way! I have learned about so many amazing and useful tools, ideas, apps, shortcuts, resources, etc. So much so, that it is beyond easy to feel overwhelmed (but definitely in a good way). Every single day this week, there were multiple times that I felt like “YES,” now there’s something I can definitely use that when I get back to school. I’m thankful that everything was documented so well that even if I forget specifics, I have a reference database to pull up info. If asked however, it would be extremely difficult to think of just one takeaway that I would guess I’d use the most. SO I’m relieved that I don’t have to do that. I will however share how I plan to implement things when I return to school in August. First and foremost, when I return home, I intend on giving myself some time to mentally debrief. My brain literally needs a break. After that though, I definitely have a game plan.

Today we received some great insight from former fellows about what to expect next. One particularly useful suggestion was to choose two to three takeaways that I want to implement when school starts. From there, I can use that experience’s successes and failures when I implement one or two more later in the year. This made a lot sense to me, because I know I would be overwhelmed if I didn’t have a game plan.

Nothing compares

There are PDs and then there is the Kenan Fellows PD. It trumps all others! Typically, school-based professional development is necessary, but not always the most engaging or useful for all faculty and staff. As an art teacher, I can definitely attest to that. Unless it’s a specific art education PD, I often find myself reflecting on how I could be using my time better by lesson planning, prepping, experimenting, etc. I can’t say that about this experience, though. The Kenen Fellows summer PD gives us just what we need to be better educators for our schools, districts and communities. This was the type of PD every teacher dreams of — hands on, beneficial, relevant and useful.

And the one thing I haven’t touched on, that is just immeasurable, is the relationships. The 25 of us came in on Monday very quietly, timidly and a bit apprehensive. We will leave tomorrow as a family — network of 25 strong fellow educators, friends and colleagues. Thank you to all involved in the Kenan Fellows program, for this yearlong opportunity. I feel blessed!


Day two was such a whirlwind of information, that I planned on not posting an update at all tonight. I mean the amount of learning that took place today was literally staggering. In fact, I’m surprised that I can even formulate enough brain power to write this. However, I did decide to share the topics and sessions I attended, so that I have a quick reference for when I need to remember specifics once we return home.

The morning sessions were geared specifically to knowing and understanding our personality types as well as how to brand ourselves as educators. Both were extremely beneficial and offer a different aspect on channeling who each of us are.

The afternoon sessions began after an overview of Project Based Learning. From there the musical chairs began. This is when we had the opportunity to really personalize our learning by choosing our own sessions. I went to the following…

  • Digital Literacy
  • Teacher as GPS: Show students where they are and where they are going
  • Flipping and Landing on Your Feet: Creating videos for the classroom. and…
  • Project-Based Learning: Mapping your project

Each session was extremely beneficial and specifically chosen based on I want to do this upcoming school year. The only drawback — where on earth to begin?

The Beginning of a New Journey

That one cliché… “Lifelong Learner”

A few years back, I read an article about why it was time to bury the whole lifelong learning phrase once and for all, and break those of us who love to say it from ever using it again. It basically asserted that not only was it a redundant, overused phrase, but that everyone is a lifelong learner because of the many situations we experience on a daily basis. And while that article made some interesting points, there was one in particular with which I differed. Going through life and learning new things simply by happenstance, is very different than someone who constantly and consistently chooses to seek out opportunities in which they can learn new things. So if you’re wondering whether I’m trying to make myself feel better about continuing to use the phrase, you would be correct. I am!

Drumroll please… I am a lifelong learner, and that’s what brings me here.

And so it begins…

I am here at NCCAT (North Carolina Center for Advancement of Teaching) at Cullowhee, NC. As a 2018-19 Kenan Fellow, I am excited to begin this yearlong journey with an amazing one week professional learning retreat. We’re off and running, and I’m eager to see what’s next.