Basic High School English teacher Stephanie Berry was recently chosen to be a part of the PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators program.
The program recognizes 100 educators nationwide who are using digital media in their classrooms.
Berry was also named one of the top 16 applicants and is slated to receive a trip to Washington, D.C., to participate in a two-day media summit this summer.
“I hope to gain new perspective as a leader in the education technology field,” Berry said. “I hope to bring back the skills I learn and transform the school into a more technology-friendly environment.”
Bringing technology to the classroom was fairly simple for Berry, a Henderson resident.
Before becoming a teacher, she worked around technology and always kept up to date on new devices.
“I worked at Best Buy, AT&T and Samsung,” she said. “I loved learning about the new gadgets, but I wasn’t a good salesperson.”
As an English major at UNLV, she decided to use her degree to become a teacher, where she could use technology to teach her students.
She has been teaching at Basic High School for a year. In addition to teaching English classes, she serves on the school’s technology team and as the Photography Club adviser.
For a senior English class, she had students create a blog and use an online form to answer questions and write responses.
Berry said this is the world students live in today.
“It’s easier for them,” she said. “They never have to worry about losing a paper in their backpacks.”
She also uses interactive materials to teach students about a variety of topics.
Among the items in her tool belt are PBS LearningMedia videos that she said help students garner a deeper understanding of topics.
She wishes some of the innovations of today were available to her in high school.
“I think it would have made things more interesting,” she said.
Outside the classroom, Berry has encouraged other teachers to get on Twitter and use it as a professional development tool.
Seeing that Berry was technology-savvy, another Basic teacher forwarded her information about the PBS program.
“She encouraged me to apply,” Berry said.
John Sessler, PBS’s program manager for engagement and learning media, said the LearningMedia Digital Innovators opportunity is intended to acknowledge educators who use the digital learning space, specifically those who use PBS LearningMedia.
“We offer 36,000 free resources for educators,” he said.
Sessler said about 1.4 million users access PBS LearningMedia.
Teachers in kindergarten through 12th grade were invited to apply for the program. There were about 400 submissions for the 2014 program.
“Applicants were asked to submit a 60- to a 120-second video about how they use the digital learning media,” Sessler said. “Stephanie was very excited in her video to talk about how to be a digital citizen.”
From the submissions, 100 applicants were selected to be a part of the program that allows them to receive professional development throughout the year.
“I was shocked I was in the top 16,” Berry said. “I read the email like 14 times because I was in disbelief.”
Being in the program will not only help Berry learn new things, it will equip her to share tips with other teachers in her school.
“She is basically a technology evangelist in the classroom,” Sessler said.
Berry has connected online with some of the other teachers in the program.
She is already using what she has learned to inspire other teachers at her school.
“They are pretty open to it,” she said. “I had one co-worker joke that I was dragging her into the 22nd century.”
For more information, visit pbslearningmedia.org.
Contact Henderson View reporter Michael Lyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5201.