Staff Development Specialist, Riverside Unified School District

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All your passions can be integrated with STEM, you don’t have to pick one or the other.

Ariana Flewelling

What do you do?

I originally started my career as a high school English teacher, and I was always finding ways to integrate technology in my classroom. This drove me to leave the classroom, and instead of teaching high school students, I was able to transition to teaching other teachers about integrating technology. Now in my role, I help TK-12 grade teachers learn about the various ways to incorporate technology into the classroom. This includes physical computing, virtual/augmented reality, cloud computing, and design thinking. Every day is different too, which is something I really enjoy. Some days I am at my desk designing curriculum for teachers to use in the classroom, others I’m at my desk calling vendors and responding to emails. My favorite days are when I’m in the field coaching teachers and working with students. I love leading teacher professional development because getting to talk with teachers about their educational practice and how they can enhance the lives of students is exhilarating and makes me hopeful for the future.

Why did you choose this field?

Growing up, I was always interested in technology, I was fortunate that my dad would bring home old computers from work. He really inspired my curiosity, love, and ‘click all the buttons’ attitude towards technology. When I was in college, I needed a part-time job, and the Information Technology Help Desk was hiring student workers; this was a perfect fit for me. As an extrovert, it was great getting to interact with people from across the university. Unfortunately, even though I was interested in computer science, I even earned high marks in a college-level intro to computing classes, I majored in English. I wish I had remembered what my dad had taught me growing up, but luckily for me, it all worked out for the best. When I became a teacher my love for computers and STEM came in handy, and now I’m in a role where I can help others and work to ensure another student never feels limited like I did in college.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

It’s so important when integrating STEM into the classroom to connect it to student learning standards and to make it authentic to the student experience. That moment when the teachers I’m working with make the connection between STEM, their content and their students is always an amazing one.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love being in a teacher support role because it allows me to be creative and foster curiosity, love and ‘click all the buttons;’ attitude towards technology that my dad did for me for others. When I get to see teachers passing this on to students, I’m ecstatic!

Best advice for next generation?

All your passions can be integrated with STEM, you don’t have to pick one or the other. STEM is and will continue, to be a part of our world, so go out there and design a world you want to live in.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

N/A

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