For Robin Whitney, MEd ’05, it’s all about the kids. As a parent, as a professional, and as a volunteer, her days are spent thinking about kids fostering creativity and teamwork, overseeing their education, and sending them into the world as independent problem-solvers. She credits her AUNE experience with helping her become the kind of leader she is in her new role as principal of the North Brookfield (MA) Junior-Senior High School: interested in collaboration rather than top-down mandates.
Robin was a behavior specialist at Conant High School in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, when she decided to apply to the Experienced Educators program. She loved her time at AUNE, calling the cluster model phenomenal. “I never once looked back and said it wasn’t worth all the hard work.”
After graduating, she got a job as vice principal at Conval Regional, a high school with a student body of about 1200 in Peterborough, NH. A vice-principal is largely a disciplinarian, a role that certainly kept her busy in so large a school. It is no surprise that she jumped at the chance to assume her current role overseeing a school of only 327 students in grades 7-12. At North Brookfield, she is getting to know all of the students and is very active in all aspects of the running of the school.
Perhaps as exciting as becoming principal, has been the chance to spread the word about one of the prime passions in her life, her time spent with DestiNation Imagination (DI).
Robin first became involved ten years ago when her son brought home a permission slip for Odyssey of the Mind, a similar organization. DI is an international competition where teams of five to seven members work together using creativity and critical thinking to solve one of the problems posed in a given year. They can receive no help from adults in thinking up or creating the solution to the problem. Teams compete regionally, at the state level, and then at global finals against teams in the same age category.
DestiNation Imagination: Inspiring Students and Coach
That first year, Robin was just a parent supporting her child and trying to understand this non-traditional international competition. The next year, seeing the eager enthusiasm and positive effect on the kids, she became a coach. I love watching kids look at a project and say ‘We can’t do that.’ And then watching them do it!
During her ten years, she has several times taken teams all the way to global finals on the University of Tennessee campus. Last year, her son’s final year before going to college, he was part of a team that went on to take twelfth place globally.
She still coaches the high school team in her home school district, Jaffrey/Rindge. She has also started a junior high team at her new school. I love what DI brings out in kids. It takes the traditional classroom limits off and encourages kids to color outside the lines.
Inside the school and out, as a mother, an administrator, and a coach, Robin Whitney does all she can to foster creative education and independence in the young people around her. Sometimes they say ‘I want to use a color that’s not in the crayon box!’ Listen to them, they’ll help you learn how to help them.”