"Innovative” and “educator" are two words that come to mind when thinking about Shannon Johnson, the Science Specialist at Jacksonville Country Day School. So it is no surprise that she won the 2017 Innovative Educator award from the Jacksonville Business Journal. According to the nomination form, the Innovative Educator award "recognizes individuals who have created cutting-edge programs that positively impact students or taken other innovative steps to increase learning.”
Ms. Johnson was nominated for all of the hard work and vision she has used to help combine the science and computer labs to create a STEM lab, which includes a makerspace and a technology studio. She accepted the award on May 2.
Under Ms. Johnson’s guidance, the school’s science lab has incorporated a fully equipped makerspace where students can inquire about problems and provide innovative solutions. The makerspace is equipped with tools such as 3D printers, sewing machines, and electrical components so that students can not only envision innovative solutions, they can make them a reality. The transformation of the science lab enables students to be problem solvers, design thinkers, tinkerers, and collaborators.
In addition to the inclusion of a makerspace in the science lab, a technology studio has also been established. In the tech studio, students learn to use technology as a tool for productivity, communication, and research.
“We are so proud of Shannon’s accomplishment,” Head of School Pat Walker said. "She is an outstanding example of an innovator: always pushing the limits, thinking of new ways to engage children in science and other disciplines, and working hard to bring those around her on board to new ideas."
Former parent, former teacher, and frequent substitute at the school, Sue Stepp, said that Ms. Johnson “recognizes how important it is to inspire innovators and truly bring out the creative problem-solving abilities of each child.”
The transformation of the science lab into a makerspace and tech studio provides the ideal environment for students to acquire the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills that their future requires.