Education innovators share strategies at inaugural Readiness Institute Summit

Esther Wojcicki and Mark Cuban honored with community and future readiness awards

Students share their experience as part of the Readiness Institute at Penn State Summer Program during the RI at Penn State Summit. Credit: RI at Penn StateAll Rights Reserved.

PITTSBURGH — “Teaching has never been more important, but, in many places it’s more challenging than ever,” said Tom Vander Ark, CEO of Getting Smart and first executive director for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Vander Ark shared collaborative techniques in education and innovation central to the Readiness Institute (RI) at Penn State Summit. Learners and leaders in education participated in the daylong, interactive event on Thursday, Oct. 28, at the Energy Innovation Center (EIC), home to the RI at Penn State, a unit of Penn State Outreach.

Vander Ark’s message for educators:

—Engage with informal learning experiences that emerged over the past two years during the COVID-19 pandemic.

—Encourage more interest-based learning in the future by embracing social and emotional learning.

—Lean into competency-based systems that meet learners where they are and engage students with real-world learning opportunities that lead to success.

“School and system leaders can do more to change the way a community thinks about itself and its future than any other person in the community. Lead where and how you can do it,” Vander Ark said. “The world is facing adaptive challenges including exponential tech, pandemics and climate change. Every sector is complex, and an increasing amount of work is done by diverse teams using smart tools. Focus on wellness, yours — and your students — create safe places of belonging, reconnect, build relationships, and stay healthy. Keep developing your personal vision for powerful learning.”

Esther Wojcicki, CEO and founder of Global Moonshots in Education, delivered a message of inspiration with the audience as she was honored as the RI at Penn State Community Ready Leader of the Year for her support of the RI at Penn State Hope Moonshot program.

“My goal, our goal, is to empower those around us, to lift up the voices of the oppressed and provide learning opportunities for all learners, regardless of background,” Wojcicki said. “It is an honor to be recognized as a leader in this area and to be in a position to support people of all backgrounds to work together to uplift everyone. We can do it; it is happening right now, and we just need to accelerate it.”

Entrepreneur Mark Cuban also was honored at the event as the RI as Penn State Future Ready Leader of the Year for his collaboration with the RI at Penn State to bring the Mark Cuban Foundation AI Bootcamp to the Pittsburgh region.

Stan Thompson, program director for education at The Heinz Endowments; Sam Moore, executive director for the Moonshot Museum; and instructors from the RI at Penn State Summer Program each shared their message of support for the K-12 students who are at the center of each program’s focus and success.

Justin Aglio, senior director for the RI at Penn State, said the enormous support, outreach and collaboration of leaders in education and the community are what drives the mission for the RI at Penn State.

“True movement and change can only be achieved when communities, educators and industry champions come together to share, learn and connect,” Aglio said. “We are thankful for all stakeholders including learners, educators, community leaders, the industry sector and more for supporting community and future readiness.”

The next RI at Penn State Summit is slated for fall 2022.

Last Updated October 28, 2021