In February of 2018, seventeen educators gathered at The Education Cooperative (TEC) in Walpole, Massachusetts. This group would form Cohort 1 of Fuse MA. Among this group was Medfield teacher, Julie Lowerre.
When she began the fellowship, Julie taught fifth grade at the Dale Street School in Medfield. Now, she is the school’s Innovation Integration Specialist. As a fellow, she coached in the Norwood Public Schools.
Here, Julie shares some of her thoughts and memories of the Fuse MA Fellowship.
What are your memories of the fellowship? How did your experience change over the year and a half?
J.L.: My memories mostly have to do with the wonderful connections I made with my fellow Fellows, Highlander members and with the teachers I coached. Having a team that worked well together was critical to the success of our mission. Rachel (Dudley) and Jimmy (Odierna) were not only amazing professionals, but also fun to work with. I will never forget preparation for the district meetings. Many times we were on our computers late at night the week of the meeting collaborating and planning.
I also learned so much from Jill (Milton), who was the fellow at school where I coached, and Ken (Toomey), who was the fellow that came to my school to coach. Lots of great memories talking, sharing and laughing. They helped push my thinking, provided wonderful support and become friends who I know I can continue to bounce ideas off of.
BUT I will never forget the second day of boot camp when we had to do a practice presentation and be evaluated. None of us had any idea what we were doing!! It was daunting to look ahead, and I know I wasn’t the only one questioning the decision to do this. The biggest change would have to be the feeling from that day to the feeling of pride that came from the last day. What a great accomplishment and growth for us all. Going through each step with these amazing people feeling supported and valued certainly helped me be more confident as an educator and also more skilled.
What successes and challenges did you encounter?
J.L.: The biggest successes came from the teachers I coached. They were a group of educators ready and hungry for change. They moved mountains at their school and it was such a rewarding partnership and experience. We grew together. I felt so honored to join their work.
The challenges were always trying to keep up with expectations and being fully prepared for coaching days while keeping my own class running smoothly. Doing both and having additional responsibilities in my district were at times hard to manage.
How has being a Fuse Fellow changed how you approach your current role?
J.L.: I have a new role this year and I have needed many skills that I developed as a Fuse Fellow (leadership, facilitating, coaching). I approached my current role feeling more confident because of all the supported work I completed as a Fellow.
How have you kept the work going? Have you provided any professional development opportunities?
I ran a PD session on playlists with our 5th-grade teachers. I have created and shared social studies playlists with our 4th-grade teachers. I presented at MassCue on blended and personalized learning as it relates to the use of playlists. I am working closely with our reading specialists to create more engaging ways for their students to respond to reading using technology and the makerspace.
What advice do you have for future Fuse MA Fellows?
Keep plugging away. Embrace being out of your comfort zone. You will be amazed at your professional and personal growth at the end.