Saying Goodbye to Maker VISTA: Inspiring Passion and Confidence!

After five inspiring and challenging years, we will be concluding the Maker VISTA program in Fall 2018. To celebrate the impact of this work, we’ve asked our amazing Maker VISTA members to reflect on their experiences and accomplishments this school year. Each of our VISTA members, working at various partner sites nationwide, came to this program with different perspectives, and focused on different projects—yet they all remain connected by a commitment to service and community. In this post, Carey Habiger, a VISTA member who recently completed her year serving at San Fernando Middle School, shares more about how she and the youth and educators she served, have been affected by maker-centered learning and capacity building.  

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SFMS 4 (2)

The year I’ve spent as a Maker VISTA has been one filled with growth, challenges, successes, and failures. The most impressive accomplishment of the year was undoubtedly my team’s success in being awarded $300,000 in funding by Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) through their Career Technical Education (CTE) pathways grant. With these funds, San Fernando Middle School (SFMS) has been able purchase new computers, 3D printers, a laser cutter, and many more tools for our Makerspace.

We’ve also forged valuable connections with surrounding high schools such as Sylmar Charter High School, whose Agriculture teacher, Mr. List, has been instrumental in the creation of SFMS Makerspace’s garden. From his generous seed and plant donations, to his patient advice and guidance with our composting project, his partnership with our Makerspace has been invaluable.

Although grants, in-kind donations, and newly forged partnerships are all essential to the impact that Maker Ed has made at SFMS, the most beneficial aspect of my work here has been the time I’ve spent with my students. Inspiring passion and confidence in the students actively participating in our Maker Ed elective class, and seeing their expertise and knowledge grow has been hands-down the most rewarding aspect of my VISTA year. The Maker Ed elective class was first offered at SFMS beginning in August 2017, in large part due to the previous Maker VISTA member’s efforts in cultivating buy-in from Principal Freddy Ortiz, along with building relationships with Mrs. Lopez and Mrs. Golden, the two teachers who took on the challenge of teaching this new elective class. Since then the class has continued to gain momentum furthering SFMS growing maker culture with students, teachers and administrators.

Ultimately, garnering valuable resources, forging new connections, and inspiring a passion for Making in SFMS students has not only greatly impacted the community itself, but given me a sense of accomplishment for what I’ve been able to do in the short time I’ve been here. Although my own part in these changes was vital, none of this could’ve been possible without the support of my supervisors Lyna Abal and Toutoule Nyota, and my VISTA leader Hadiyah Shabazz, all of whom played an essential part in my success at SFMS.

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San Fernando Middle School has been able to build capacity around inquiry based learning, empowering youths, and creating real world relevancy in the classroom because of the Maker VISTA Program. Our Maker VISTA, Carey, has been able to build relationships and empower students and teachers to take ownership of their learning, collaborate and think critically about serving their school community! SFMS is very fortunate to have had a Maker VISTA Program these past 3 years, where making has grown throughout campus and now students, teachers, administrators, parents and community partners acknowledge and welcome it as part of the school community culture!

– Lyna Abal, Community Schools Coordinator & Maker VISTA member alumnus, 2016-2018

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SFMS 1 (2)

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This blog post is part of a series celebrating the accomplishments of our fifth and final Maker VISTA program season. We hope you enjoy reading them all!

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