Teacher Spotlight: Krista Marino

We couldn’t do our life-changing work without the help of teachers. I sat down with Krista Marino, a teacher at Thomas Edison High School in Northeast Minneapolis, to learn more about her work with Rêve Academy.

Krista, can you tell us more about yourself and your job?

I’m in my fourth year of teaching high school art students. Teaching is actually my second career—I picked up a lot of skills in other jobs that help me as a teacher. As a locksmith, I loved working with my hands, visualizing solutions, and most of all, showing others how to accomplish something. So becoming a teacher and returning to my love of art felt like a natural step. My dad also spent most of his life as a professor, so in a way I felt like I was being called to this profession.

Students throwing clay in Krista’s art class (Photo credit: Star Tribune)

How did you hear about the Rêve Academy program?

I was talking to the International Baccalaureate coordinator at Edison and lamenting some of my challenges with IB Art. I give lots of tools to students and then they’re left to their work. I said, “I don’t know what else I can possibly do to help students get work done!” There have also been a lot of conversations at my school about teens lacking executive functioning skills and a sense of urgency to get things done. That’s when the coordinator said, “Have you heard of Kanban and Scrum?” So what I’ve done is use Rêve Academy tools without teaching Rêve Academy courses.

How did Kanban and Scrum—the tools that Rêve Academy provides to its teachers—address challenges in your classroom?

Students are all so different and they take IB Art for different reasons. But I’ve noticed that some students are excited by the independence of the course while others are intimidated that it’s not the type of class where I’m giving step-by-step instructions for every class period. I was trained by Rêve Academy in using Kanban and Scrum, then I taught my students, and now they step in to support each other.

I’m excited to use these resources for the remainder of the year to help my seniors tackle big, self-taught projects. Even if it helps just half of the kids, that gives me more individual time with the ones who still need help.

What kind of feedback have students given you?

I interviewed each senior about their experience and all but one said the Kanban board really helped them since it gave them something physical to look at. Even if they didn’t break the tasks down perfectly each time, it helped them take the first necessary steps and then stay motivated and productive as time went on. One student, who’s not the most organized person, actually created his own version at home.

Would you recommend the program to other teachers?

ehs_staff_2014_2_editedThe staff at Edison High School (Photo credit: Edison)

I already do! A lot of teachers have similar struggles and I’m sharing these tools as a possible school-wide solution for our IB program. If students are using the tools everywhere, it gives them consistency and the opportunity to become proficient. Our students are asked to be independent in a way that they’re not used to, especially in IB classes. This is a great way to equip students with the tools they need for success.

A note from the interviewer

One of the most rewarding parts of working at Rêve Academy is walking alongside teachers in their classroom practice. When doors are opened to our organization, that’s a symbol of trust…and not something we take for granted. Krista opened her classroom to us and from the first meeting, I was inspired by her ingenuity and authenticity. I saw her actively designing solutions to increase the engagement and achievement of her students. She was also willing to look inwards to improve her own responsiveness as a teacher. It’s an honor to work with dynamic educators like Krista and witness their powerful impact on kids!

Header photo credit: Star Tribune

Rêve Academy

Rêve Academy helps students dream with direction by providing pathways to digital careers. We create marketable talent by combining immersive coursework with real-world experience.