Mr. Verne Becker
Joined SRDS Community: 2017
Degrees: B.A., Biblical Studies, Wheaton College, IL; Master of Arts, Journalism, New York University
1. Tell us about your journey to SRDS and working in technology. You have a background in Biblical Studies and Journalism, which is very unique!
2. Who inspired you to become a teacher?
I majored in biblical studies and minored in literature because I wanted to pursue a journalism career in the area of religion. Three of my professors -- a biblical scholar, a professional journalist, and a literature sage -- served as my inspiration. After college, I worked in editorial positions at several religious magazines, and then did freelance writing for nine years. During that time I published articles and several books, but I also began to grow more and more interested in the computer technology I was using for writing and editing. Mostly on my own, I learned how to build my own computer and troubleshoot software and hardware.
I supplemented my freelance income by teaching adult education courses in word processing and spreadsheets, and I found I enjoyed teaching technology. So when the opportunity arose to teach writing and technology at a school in Kentucky where my brother worked, I jumped at the chance. Four schools (and over 20 years) later, here I am at SRDS!
For my graduate degree, I returned to journalism, but my focus was almost entirely on writing about educational technology to broaden my knowledge as a teacher.
3. You are a technology integrator on campus. Describe the role you play here and why this is unique to SRDS.
I love doing technology integration. In a way, it’s funny that it would be needed, as technology has already infiltrated nearly every area of our lives. But in the world of education and pedagogy, technology can easily slip through the cracks. Many teachers did not receive adequate instruction in the use of technology while in college; others want to incorporate technology but don’t have the time to keep up with the latest tools and industry developments. That’s why the tech integrator is so important -- not only to introduce tools that can enhance student learning, but also to show teachers how to use these tools effectively in the classroom setting. It’s not all about having the latest bells and whistles; it’s about engagement and student learning.
4. What has been a favorite memory of your time at SRDS?
One of my favorite memories was working with Ms. Kelly’s engineering students to create water bottle designs. Using Tinkercad 3D software, students designed a prototype for a water bottle that they would theoretically propose to a water bottle manufacturer. First, they Skyped with an actual water bottle designer in Massachusetts for advice and sample ideas. Then, once the designs were complete, they were printed on the 3D printers in the IDEAS Lab. Finally, our water bottle consultant read each student proposal, studied photos of each prototype, and awarded a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize. I enjoyed watching the energy and engagement as the students came up with a wide range of designs. They had lots of fun, but they also had to wrestle with questions that would need to be asked if they were actually working for a water bottle company.
5. How does our curriculum and teaching at SRDS prepare students to succeed in college and beyond?
From a technology viewpoint, we focus as much as possible on real-life projects, real-life problems to solve, and real-life skills that can be applied outside the classroom. For their Digital Literacy and Digital Fluency projects in 6th and 7th grade, students must not only find a web resource and a printed resource; they must also track down and interview an actual human who has expertise that connects with the student’s project.
In our TREP$ program, our entrepreneurship classes, and in our Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship events, we regularly emphasize the need to develop ideas and create projects that real people would use today. I truly believe that once our students take off for college and build a career, they will remember that it all started with a project they made at SRDS.