27 education leaders named esports Scholastic Fellows

The North America Scholastic Esports Federation selects group of innovators from U.S. and beyond to collaborate around new ideas in gaming in learning environments
By: | October 2, 2020
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In some ways, they quite literally hold the future of education in their hands – leaning on mice keyboards and gaming controllers, along with some serious brain power – to usher in new waves of instruction and development for students.

The 27 Scholastic Fellows selected by the North America Esports Federation (NASEF) to create, test and refine teaching methods around esports and academics will be breaking new boundaries in the education space. Over the next year, they’ll be collaborating on potential lessons and projects that are forward-thinking, technology-driven and all about video games.

What an amazing way to reach students and position them for future success.

“NASEF is striving to equip educators to connect kids’ passion for gaming with meaningful learning,” said Tom Turner, chief education officer at NASEF. “By sharing ideas and working together, the fellows will collectively improve the impact of this teaching platform. Then NASEF will freely share their work with others around the world, so that more students can learn in an environment that is exciting and meaningful to them.”

NASEF’s latest cohort of teaching stars comes from South Africa, the UK, Mexico and various locales in the United States.

There are recognizable names to many in the scholastic esports and gaming space, such as Minecraft whiz Steve Isaacs, Nick Rider, president of Esports Ohio, and Bradford Harris, chief information officer at the Texas Scholastic Esports Federation. There is an esports coach and teacher in the group, Dalton McGhiey of Springfield Public Schools and Lincoln Land Community Colleges. And there are others who may be new to those who run in esports circles but have big backgrounds it them, such as Lindy Meiser of the Pottsboro Texas library system, a 3D printing educator and a “game addict for as long as I can remember.”

Who else is in?

The wide range of talented educators – from librarians to classroom teachers to technology specialists and non-profit supervisors – will be developing curriculum modules, sharing best practices around esports and learning from each other.

Aside from the numbers of teachers who were selected, NASEF went outside of the traditional group of educators and chose some from within communities, such as Taylor Yazel, a site supervisor and expanded learning specialist at the YMCA in Anaheim, CA, and Clint Kennedy, educational technology ambassador from Learn2Esport.

It also leaned on those close to home. Based in California and working closely with the connected learning research arm at University of California, Irvine, NASEF selected five Fellows within the state, including Jenny Gonzales, a teacher at Marco Forster Middle School in San Juan Capistrano; Miles Harvey, an esports coach and teacher at James Monroe Middle School in Ridgecrest; JuanPablo Larios, a CTE teacher in Villa Park; Maria Nadal, a digital media arts CTE teacher in Lake Forest; Matthew Smith, a social studies and special ed teacher at Parris Middle School in Redondo Beach.

NASEF also has a strong foothold in South Florida and the Treasure Coast and chose four new Fellows there – Randall Deich, who started a program from the ground up in an underserved area of Broward County; Alex Keeler, a former pro gamer and teacher in the St. Lucie School District; Mark Godinez, a computer science teacher outside of Miami, where esports has been red hot; and John Shoemaker, an ed tech specialist for Palm Beach County Schools, which is just beginning its foray into esports.

“I am interested in connecting with my peers across the world to build a knowledge base on how to roll out esports teams and help spread the positive, relevant message that the esports ecosystem can bring to today’s students,” Shoemaker says.

Shoemaker and others like Corrine Perrella, an advanced co-curricular specialist at Anne Arundel Public County Schools in Maryland; Regina Schaffer, an ed tech specialist and CS instructor at Thorne Middle School in Port Monmouth, NJ; Travis Whitt, a creative and english writing teacher at Washington Park High School in Racine, Wis.; and Alexander Gibson, who teaches Exploration in Game Design at William Penn Senior High School in York, Pa., will have a chance to learn from some of the best. NASEF provides mentors who will be guiding and advising them on their journey.

They also will get the chance to work with a contingent of fellow education leaders from outside its borders. NASEF’s international Fellows this year include three from Mexico: David Amaro, education director at Anahuac México Esports; Aldo Fuentes, VR and Indie game developer, and Rubik Adams, a UX designer; one from South Africa: Garikai Kajau, a teacher at General Smuts High Schools; and three from the UK: James Fraser-Murison, director of learning at Queen’s Mary College; Ashley Sheehan, a tutor at The Green Room School; and Mary Atherton, assistant curriculum leader for mathematics at Carmel College.

“The program provides a superb community of like-minded teachers, determined to provide opportunities for our students,” Atherton said.

This year’s mentors who graduated through the fellowship program include educators Chris Aviles, Shayla Baldwin, Ryan Friederich, Angelique Gianas, Ivet Gonzalez, J.D. Williams and James Wood along with librarian Tyler Hahn.

Chris Burt is a reporter and editor for District Administration and the Program Chair for the Academic Esports Conference and Expo. He can be reached at cburt@lrp.com

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