Megan Culp: Encouraging Faculty Innovation

Megan Culp
Head of the Art Department

"How can we further evolve Quaker practices to meet more contemporary needs? It is so exciting!"

Your were a clerk for the Strategy Through Inquiry process, which was based on a design thinking model. What did you learn from that process?

I learned a lot from that process. I was encouraged to think big, but also connect with people on the ground. The process inspired me to consider how design thinking connects to Quaker ideals and decision making. These ideas can help us work towards decision making together as a school and as a community. 

I also saw that the idea of transformation is exciting to some and scary to others. I saw an important exchange of dialogue among a wide range of people at the school. This was thrilling!

Maryanne Rawlings and I were clerks of the “well-being” query, which focused on looking at education in a holistic way. This became a huge focus of the strategy process, as we realized well-being and wellness are at the center of learning for our students. I personally think about well-being a lot as a teacher. Social and emotional health impacts learning in so many ways and it must be addressed.

Was there anything surprising?

Young people's lives are so busy.  School must fill in spaces for open connection and open time. As a group, we dove into how school fits into life 24/7 and what additional needs GFS must provide.

It is important that our students, and faculty and staff, connect with one another, which is why lunchtime, recess, and social interactions are so important. That discovery and realization was Illuminating.

You pursued, and received, a Maguire Innovation Fund grant, which was inspired by the Strategy Thought Inquiry process. Why was the creation of this fund so important to teaching and learning at GFS?

The idea of using and testing ideas in order to see if they work is innovation, and it is needed in education. This fund gives us the opportunity test ideas within a living community, and allows innovation to grow organically. The fund gives educators resources to test and build. It sets forward-thinking as a priority; it is remarkable.

With support from the fund I was able to visit the Nueva School for an intensive Design Thinking Institute with my colleague Meg Cohen Ragas. At the institute, I was encouraged to think about how we can share ideas broadly, empowering kids to be equal partners with teachers in that work. Design Thinking and Quaker education reinforce each other. I am excited to dive deeper into that topic in the classroom and with other educators. How we can further evolve Quaker practices to meet more contemporary needs? It is so exciting!

What are you excited about for the future of GFS?

I love the tension of our successful, grounded tradition pushing up against an accelerating need for transformation in education. To me, it is the perfect setup for coming up with ways to make positive, effective change. 

I am excited to make the most of our resources and build off of our history in a brave and creative way.

I have an immense respect for our faculty and administration, who are ready to move us forward, We could easily rely on past success. I am proud that we have energy and integrity and motivation to make sure our efforts to make sure education is what it could and should be.