Culture at NEIAWatch
The world’s needs are too pressing – and the world is changing too quickly – for us not to develop passion in students from a young age. NEIA’s culture is evident, a community dedicated to improving the lives of others.
Establishing a Cultural Charter
During our first meeting in April, Ayla Gavins, curriculum coordinator and instructional coach, began our day with a land acknowledgment to acknowledge the community of people who came before us. Together, we created a sense of belonging and laid the groundwork for the community NEIA will become.
We took a moment to reflect on our cultural charter. The team shared feedback, and we refined our message. We recognized the unique opportunity we have to create a culture and community with a distinct purpose to improve the lives of others. The NEIA cultural charter is: We love, support, and inspire our entire community of innovators as we imagine and iterate a transformative school experience that sparks joy and wonder.
The NEIA team is experienced, insightful, and creative. Together, we explored a range of topics:
- What kind of space are we creating for our innovators?
- How do we create a learning space that embraces us all and provides us with the freedom to be who we are and become better?
- How can we be intentional about the methods, materials, and images we use?
There was a real sense of togetherness and the excitement that comes with fresh perspectives and sharing new ideas. We closed our day with a celebratory gathering at the 110 Grill.
Building Community Through Human-Centered Design
Expanding on our work, we held a second gathering focused exclusively on human-centered design. Matt Kressy, Founding Director of MIT Integrated Design & Management (MITidm) and trustee at NEIA, was our instructor and guide for the day. He provided us with a lecture and a project-based experience to deepen our understanding of the human-centered design process.
As Matt explained, products and services offer an experience. To create the best experience, we must first understand the customer. Human-centered design is a process to learn about the customer’s needs with empathy and compassion. We can create meaningful experiences by following the human-centered design process of explore, express, create, test, and then implement.
We broke into groups and participated in an HCD workshop to reimagine an everyday product — the wallet. We interviewed each other, connected through story-telling, and working together, we found ways to improve our products. We ended the day energized with the words explore, express, and create dancing in our heads.
Our shared experience created a sense of belonging and prepared us to bring the HCD ethos to our school and our community.
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.