Join Summer of STEM Camps this summer in Lake Nona’s Laureate Park for week-long minds-on, hands-on learning! They have STEM Camp in June, Little Learners & Robotics Camp starting in July. Ask for more details about their summer camps and be entered for a chance to win FREE Camp Registration.
Meet Director: Dr. Megan Jenue
If we go way back to why I became a teacher in the first place, in many ways it was accidental. I actually started off in college as a music major. I was studying vocal performance and had experienced a childhood full of musical theater and all of those wonderful things that had me very immersed in the world of art and performance arts. Along the way, one of my classes that dealt with music education in public schools had us involved in doing some on-site fieldwork and so I contacted the music teacher who I had taken private lessons for many years and shadowed him in his elementary and high school that he served in. In doing that, I found myself pulled into the General Ed classrooms all day long; not in a way in which I was coerced, but in a way in which I couldn’t get enough. I was so excited by the environment and the atmosphere and particularly the enthusiasm of the elementary-aged kids. I knew during that experience that a career in music alone would not be wholly satisfying for me and that I was being led to become a teacher. So I switched majors and universities in fact and then in 2006 I graduated with a degree in early childhood education from Augusta State University in Georgia. I stayed in Georgia and taught for a few years before I matriculated back to Illinois where I had grown up and then I continued to teach elementary school there while I worked on my master’s degree and eventually my Ph.D. in mathematics education. Life took another pretty big turn when I was working on those degree programs. I became absolutely passionate about mathematics education and how I could change children’s and preservice teachers’ beliefs and experiences about and with mathematics. I wanted to set out to change how mathematics was being taught in classrooms and in turn change the lives of children and their relationship with mathematics— how they see mathematics in their world and all of the gateways that opens up for them. In doing that program I came across my first big project or passion project if you will and that of course revolved around the education of children with critical in terminal illnesses. It’s a very long story
(and probably my favorite one to tell) but in short, after volunteering at the Children’s Hospital in Illinois and discovering that education really was an afterthought for these kiddos in the best of circumstances and completely absent in the worst of circumstances, I became very driven with changing that educational landscape for those population of children and I set out to research interventions particularly in the realm of mathematics that would be meaningful and yet rigorous and robust and keep them learning and engaged and enable them to return to their schools in line with or even ahead of their peers academically. So I began my work with educational robotics and eventually that led me into immersive virtual reality and I have spent the better part of a decade now creating and refining curriculum and activities and programs for hospitalized children. That body of work has earned me a number of recognitions that I’m very proud of including numerous funded grants, notably 2.5 million from NASA in partnership with the Orlando Science Center, and widespread media coverage in print on tv, including a full page story in the New York Times in February of 2019. While it’s of course nice to have those accolades on a professional level, they truly matter because what they really amount to is advocacy for the populations of children that I work on behalf of. I’m lucky to say that my work is my life’s work. It’s not a 9-5 job for me. It defines me and my belief in what I do and my passion for it bleed through in every corner of my world. That’s of course how Norm and I met (my second favorite story, probably a tie) and what brought us together. Together we developed the worlds first pediatric school of its kind and now we are ready to bring a new wave of innovation and meaningful educational programs and services to the entire lake Nona community—our community—inclusive of all children.