Sue Brooks, Newton North High School
Sue Brooks has held private sector positions as a senior designer, project manager and creative director. For the past 21 years, she has been the design and visual communications instructor at Newton North High School (NNHS). In 2012-2013, the NNHS Design & Visual Communications program was one of 16 curricula in the U.S. selected as an InvenTeam by the Lemelson-MIT Program. InvenTeams are made up of high school students, teachers and mentors, and they receive grants to invent technological solutions to real-world problems. NNHS was one of two teams chosen to showcase their inventions at the 2014 White House Science Fair. The NNHS students brought their Pedestrian Alert System invention to Washington, D.C., in June 2014, and had the opportunity to personally demonstrate its purpose and finer details to President Obama. A research team from the Harvard Graduate School of Education has identified the Design & Visual Communications Program at NNHS as a model for their “deeper learning” education initiative. This initiative seeks to accelerate the process of systematically orienting educators and policymakers around today’s K-12 students to prepare them for modern life as adults. Deeper learning focuses more on higher-order skills, such as tackling complex problems in critical and creative ways, thinking flexibly and evaluating competing possibilities.