Education Influencer Profile: Bridget White

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Through work at Western School of Science and Technology in Maryvale, Bridget White was fortunate enough to connect with Megan and hear about the stARTem vision. Bridget liaised the strategic thinking between Western's music program and Megan's curriculum, ensuring the school supported arts education and developed systems to sustain the impact of the arts on its students. We are so thankful to have her support and wisdom in this fruitful partnership!

Q: What is your education and professional background?

A: I am a grateful product of public education and proud alumna of Hamilton College and Arizona State University.  I started my career as a middle school special education teacher and Teach For America corps member in Phoenix. After three years in the classroom and a year of non-profit program management in Phoenix, I returned to my hometown of Boston and served six years on the founding team at Excel-Chelsea as Dean of Operations and later as Founding Operations Department Head at Excel Academy Charter Schools.  At Excel-Chelsea, I was also proud to start and lead a student chorus as well as an annual field trip to see the Nutcracker-both of which were aimed at exposing students to the arts and creating an outlet for the joy of sharing musical and artistic experiences with peers. I returned to the Valley in Fall 2017 as a consultant supporting public district and charter schools to leverage school and systems operations as a driver of program improvement and organizational health.

Q: What did you want to become when you were young?

A: Like many kids, I changed my mind quite a bit.  I’m sure I wanted to be a teacher at one point, but marine biologist was the front-runner for several years in middle school, as was storm-chaser (For some reason, I had a fascination with tornadoes).  In high school and college, I considered pursuing a career in classical musical performance or diplomacy. I started seeing Teach For America recruitment materials when I was 18, though, and the rest is history.

Q: How was your connection with Megan made?

A: I was fortunate to meet Megan through our work at Western School of Science and Technology in Maryvale.  Part of my work with Western involved liaising with Megan and Western’s music teacher to think strategically about how the school can support arts education and develop systems to sustain the impact of the arts on its students.

Q: Why is STEM education important?

A: STEM education is important to answer the exact questions you pose below-impact on students and preparation for success.  (Keep reading!)

Q: What impact could stARTem make for students and/or teachers?

A: stARTem offers ready-made high-quality instructional materials that equip schools and teachers who have the motivation but may lack the resources to implement or enrich STEM in their classrooms.  With stARTem’s support, teachers and schools will deepen their impact on students and broaden their ability to connect with a variety of student interests, thereby keeping them engaged and successful in school.

Q: What do you think the STEM workforce could look like 5 years from now?

A: Seemingly everything I read about in business articles talks about the ever-increasing role of design, creativity, and adaptability in the workforce.  The STEM workforce has the potential to continually re-evaluate and improve the way we interact with one another and with the world. The workforce (and world!)  are changing faster than ever, and our job as educators is to keep an eye on that ever-evolving reality and prepare students to engage with it productively and joyfully.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

A: It’s been my sincere pleasure to work with Megan, learn about stARTem and what it’s accomplishing for students in Phoenix.  I am excited to witness and hopefully support its growing impact!

Megan Epley