For Lower School Technology Integrator Ellen Wright, joining the Collegiate School faculty was like coming home. Not only is Mrs. Wright an alum (she graduated in 2005), but her mother Eileen Beane taught 2nd Grade and Kindergarten, and recently retired after more than 30 years with Collegiate.
Mrs. Wright earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from James Madison University. For five years, she taught 5th Grade at two Title 1 schools and during that time, received a grant that incorporated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) to design water filters for children in Africa. That project ultimately impacted her path in education.
“The work on that project got my wheels turning,” Mrs. Wright said. “It was all about problem-solving and critical thinking.”
Inspired to expand her teaching horizons, she began work on a degree in library science.
“As an educator, I wanted to encourage my students to be critical thinkers, to imagine how they could solve bigger problems and to not get stuck in a ‘skill and drill’ classroom environment,” she said.
With a more refined focus, Mrs. Wright went to work at The Carmel School (K-12) in Ruther Glen, Virginia, as the librarian, technology teacher and STEM teacher.
While she loved her work there, when an opportunity arose to join the Collegiate faculty, Mrs. Wright was thrilled.
She says that one of the best things about her current job is that she gets the opportunity to work with both students and teachers to help them become more fluent in technology. Specifically, with teachers, she helps them integrate technology into the curriculum and into their classrooms.
“Integrating technology into the classroom makes teaching more effective and engaging,” Mrs. Wright said. “It’s exciting to see students and teachers gain confidence and fluency.”
In her role as technology integrator and teacher, Mrs. Wright assists students with three major projects: 2nd Grade States Fair, 3rd Grade Colonial Living Museum and 4th Grade Mosaic.
“These projects are a collaboration between students and teachers,” she said. “It’s truly amazing to see what the students come up with and the pride they feel from the end product.”
While no stranger to Collegiate, Mrs. Wright is enjoying a new perspective as a faculty member and teacher.
“I love the connection that teachers have with students,” she said. “As educators, our main role is to be here for the students, to help them grow, learn and become lifelong learners. Teachers here put the children first and support them emotionally, socially, academically — whatever they need.”