Technology opens up worlds of learning

The Concord Consortium’s Teacher Ambassador program commemorates our 25th anniversary by recognizing 25 outstanding teachers who have included our digital inquiry resources into their STEM classrooms. We congratulate them on their innovation and creativity.

Khamphet Pease, Wilson Middle School, San Diego, CA

Khamphet (Phet) Pease had been teaching STEAM elective classes at Wilson Middle School for five years when she was named one of the five San Diego County Teachers of the Year in 2015. She was invited to throw the ceremonial first pitch at a San Diego Padres game. She continues to teach at Wilson—and to be recognized. This year she won an NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Educator Award, which celebrates formal and informal educators who encourage young women’s interest and participation in technology pursuits.

Teacher Ambassador Khamphet Pease

But teaching wasn’t her first career. After college, she worked in a biotech startup, but realized that volunteer tutoring at a local library was more fulfilling. She switched careers, and hasn’t looked back.

She proudly recounts the story of one former student. Seven years ago, Sherlin was the first female student in Phet’s robotics club. Phet drove Sherlin and her cousin to the League of Amazing Programmers classes she taught in Del Mar, so that she could learn to code in Java. Phet promised to attend Sherlin’s high school graduation. When the day came, despite a long day of teaching and no parking around the crowded school, Phet made her way to the ceremony and “screamed like crazy when Sherlin’s name was called.” Sherlin graduated from Hoover High School with over a 4.0 GPA and has a full scholarship to UCSD.

Today, Phet is excited by the wealth of technology resources available—from 3D printers to laser cutters, wearables, virtual reality, microcontrollers, and more—for students and teachers. But she says that what’s most needed is funding for teachers to access the resources and technology they need “so that they don’t have to reach into their own pockets or fundraise on their own to get tools and supplies for their classes.” Phet has other ideas to support teachers, too: time and pay for collaborative lesson studies, a repository of resources, and a place to ask for timely feedback and support.

After Phet took a course in Paper Mechatronics at the 2018 Pathfinders Summer Institute, she introduced the computational crafting projects to her students to teach about the design process and engineering. Her students were incredibly engaged—Phet describes their “furrowed brows” and “faces full of concentration.” For this dedicated STEAM teacher, it “was an amazing sight to see when their problem-solving tactics and perseverance paid off and they finally got their designs to work!”

Favorite ice cream: Mint chocolate chip