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Talent Development and Innovation

Innovation at CREC Magnet Schools

Educational innovation is important to CREC Magnet Schools. Innovation is necessary for student success, teacher effectiveness, and professional growth. CREC Magnet Schools is dedicated to creating a culture of innovation in each classroom, building, as well as throughout the organization. At CREC Magnet Schools, we innovate by constantly seeking that which "enhances, evolves, or expands student learning and/or classroom instruction."

Defining "innovation" is no easy task. Innovation can look different and mean different things depending on context. CREC Magnet Schools has adopted the innovation mode developed by The Learning Accelerator (an educational nonprofit) and 2Revolutions, a national education design lab.

In their document "So You Think You Want to Innovate," these partners make two important claims.

First, that a "culture of innovation" is a key component of change and growth. Second, organizations are the units of change in innovation. CREC Magnet Schools innovates as a whole, as opposed to single classrooms or schools. This model of innovation matches CREC's belief in bottom-up innovation and top-down facilitation.

For CREC Magnet Schools, innovation is defined in this way:

  • Thinking in new ways that are not bound by "right" or "wrong" ideas.
  • Using methods and/or tools, even those from other fields, to solve problems and improve practice.
  • Establishing a nurturing culture that welcomes change as well as the difficult choices and considerations that accompany change.

Click the images below to see The Learning Accelerator and 2Revolutions' visual representation of a "culture of innovation" and organizations as units of change.

Project Innovate

Project Innovate supports CREC employees and students who are eager to transform the teaching and learning process and inspire creativity and innovation in the classroom. Through flexible funding, new technologies and ways of thinking are introduced to CREC’s classrooms. Funded projects explore a range of topics such as the connection between physical activity and classroom engagement and maker-based education. Project Innovate began with seed money from OR&L and continues to operate due to CREC’s commitment to empowering bottom-up innovation and top-down facilitation.

The 2014-15 funding cycle awarded proposals that reflect CREC's vision of educational innovation. Each proposal sought to improve the overall quality of instruction and the degree of student success through inventive practices that reflect current trends and advances in education.

The following people and proposals were awarded Project Innovate funding in 2014-2015:

  • Sarah Fitzsimons, Director of Literacy, CREC Magnet Schools - "Becoming a Published Author"
  • Gina Gadue, Theme Coach, Medical Professions and Teacher Preparation Academy - "Brainology"
  • Tim Barber, Principal, Univ. of Hartford Magnet School - "Cycle to Success"
  • Colin Glanovsky, Art Teacher, Academy of Aerospace and Engineering Elementary School - "Augmented Reality Sculpture"
  • Duane McDuffee, Technology Teacher, Two Rivers Magnet High School - "Designing a Vertical Hydroponic Growing System"
  • Lena Pacheco, Teacher, International Magnet School - "Improving Student Problem Solving"
  • Nicole Ciccarelli, Science Teacher, Academy of Aerospace and Engineering Middle School - "Legos for Engineering"
  • Janice Frank, STEM Coach, Academy of Aerospace and Engineering Elementary School - "Linking Legos to Literacy"
  • Suzanne Artis, Library Media Specialist, Metropolitan Learning Center - "MLC Makerspace"
  • Elizabeth Kane, Bodily/Kinesthetic Teacher, University of Hartford Magnet School - "UHMS Fitness Frenzy"

We congratulate all the winning proposals from this first round, and encourage the authors of those that were not chosen - and all other interested CREC employees and students - to stay tuned for information about the next round of funding.

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