Dr. Sherry Wilson, Director of Innovative Learning for Broward County Public Schools comes from a family of educators, and her passion for children and their education is undeniable. As Director of Innovative Learning for a behemoth system like Broward County, her passion sets the tone for 240 schools and 256,000 learners.
“I remember March 13th, 2020, very well,” said Dr. Wilson, “where the light switch went off one day and we went home for spring break and never returned. Two weeks later, principals were deployed into our communities to issue laptops to their stakeholders so that we could have a continuum of learning and school never closing. Scary times. Trying times. But educators were in the front position of this movement, and for the first time in a long time, parents understood the impact of what it is to have a good educator in front of their children every day when the responsibility became a part of their household on a daily basis.
“So, how do we continue this work in a post pandemic environment? We need to ensure that we are changing the paradigm and we are not afraid to shake the proverbial table of change. How do we do this through innovation if we do not close in the digital divide that has widened since COVID 19? We are in for additional systemic challenges that we may not be able to correct if we don't get in front of our students in a real way. Students who have disconnected from the process of that human touch in the classroom, who have no interest in a textbook, and who are governed more by TikTok and Fortnite than a person.
“The Department of Innovative Learning is a K12 continuum department within Broward County Public Schools,” said Wilson. “We manage purchasing and vetting of our individual learning management platforms. The instructional facilitators within my department go out and train teachers on the different platforms, but they also create curriculum based on school's needs to tailor the needs for that particular vision and principle so that they can impact student learning. Additionally, global education is something that's very important for us to make sure that our students are equipped in this 21st century marketplace. Technology is a non-negotiable. Access to technology is a non-negotiable, equitable and quality, high-quality instruction is key in this process. If we don't have it in this day and age, then it is simply educational malpractice.”
Sit back and enjoy this all-too-brief snapshot of a passionate educator making great strides in the middle of a large but caring district. It’s a great video to watch with your staff, and may inspire you to add a department of innovative learning in your own district back home.