So may I introduce to you… the Principled Innovation Staff Catalysts!

by Cassandra Kellaris – November 12, 2019

Principled Innovation Staff Catalysts meeting

This cohort of MLFTC staff will work together during the 2019-20 academic year to demystify the practice of Principled Innovation and inspire positive change across MLFTC.

A catalyst is a facilitator of transformation— a bridge between what is and what could be. A catalyst optimizes this change, bringing efficacy to the transition. In education, we are no stranger to change. Curriculum is overhauled, pedagogy evolves, and new initiatives are underway before the current ones run their course. As a college of education, we want to be intentional and thoughtful in our movement forward. We want to ask ourselves, “Just because we can, should we?” This is the essence of Principled Innovation.

Rather than taking a top-down approach to socialize the practice of Principled Innovation in MLFTC, we decided to start at the ground level. What if we had people throughout our college keeping the pulse of changes happening, who could inspire reflection and collaboration along the way? These people could facilitate innovative transformation, while staying rooted in awareness around context, culture, values, and systems. Thus, the concept of Principled Innovation Staff Catalysts emerged.

2019-20 Cohort of Principled Innovation Staff Catalysts

  • Melanie Baca, iTeach ELLs Business Analyst
  • Julian Cashman, AmeriCorps Coordinator
  • Adil Elshaigi, Admission Coordinator
  • Michele Gaines, Wellness Coach
  • Ruhi Kahn, CASGE Project Director
  • Catherine King, Accounting Assistant Senior
  • Carolyn Lister, Front End Web Developer
  • Jody Pratt, Academic Coach
  • Derek Thurber, Senior Instructional Designer
  • Zach Wicklund, Fiscal Specialist
Timeline for the first cohort of PI Staff Catalysts
Timeline for the first cohort of PI Staff Catalysts

Our first session together was an opportunity to create a sense of community and dive into the Principled Innovation framework.

As a quick temperature check, we asked our staff catalysts to explain what they think Principled Innovation is. To make things more interesting, we had them choose an image out of a stack of cards that could serve as a metaphor for their answer. Here’s what some of them said:

A puppy and a kitten on the grass
“It’s about relationships.”
A computer keyboard
“It could just look like a bunch of letters, but when you connect the pieces and actually type something, it becomes functional and makes sense. Right now we have all these pieces that might not make sense, but once we create the connections we can see the big picture.”
A flock of geese flying in a V formation
“Principled innovation involves collaboration, communication, and reflection— Do we need to change what we’re doing? Why are we doing it this way? Is there a better way to do it? Do the people around me need support?”

With six months of learning, growing, and designing ahead of us, I can’t wait to see where this cohort of passionate people takes us. Stay tuned!