GMiS Nationwide

Through its various program options, Viva Technology™ has been implemented in 18 states & the District of Columbia, reaching over 100,000 students, teachers & parents!

Educator of the week

Jillian Blair 
Columbia Heights Educational Campus

District of Columbia Public Schools Washington, D.C.
 Favorite Subjects: Math, Geology, Chemistry, and African-American Studies

A Washington, D.C. native, Ms. Jillian Blair has been teaching at the Columbia Heights Educational Campus for the past four years. As an educator she recognizes the important role a teacher plays on a student's life, and knows that she must work hard to impact her students and make them aware of the various opportunities available to them, especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Ms. Blair’s goal as an educator is clear. “My goal is to improve my ability to spark a lifelong curiosity of science, to teach technical, scientific, and critical thinking content, and to improve literacy amongst students of all aptitudes," she explains.

A very passionate educator, Ms. Blair is always looking for the good in all of her students despite what they may display on the surface - something she decided to do based on her own experiences growing up. The eldest of four, Ms. Blair and her 3 younger brothers were raised by their single mother, who suffered from Multiple Sclerosis, in the northwest area of Washington DC. Life growing up was not easy for them, but no matter how many problems they encountered, they never faltered knowing that everything would work itself out and primarily focused on their mother's illness. In school, she did relatively well as a student but quickly fell under the radar. Her teachers quickly began to label her as the "smart-but-lazy" student due to the fact that she would fall asleep in class and was inconsistent on completing homework assignments, never knowing what she was going through at home. " I never got a sense that my teachers cared about my life or my success in school, and some were insulted by my seemingly lack of motivation towards school,” Ms. Blair shares. She continues, “I wanted to attend college in a STEM related field, but lacked role models that I could relate with and I always wished that the adults in my life knew of my daily stress and pressure, although I typically displayed my feelings in anger and rebellion."

Despite these experiences, there have been two educators who have made an impact in her life. The first educator who left a lasting impression was her 3rd grade teacher, Ms. Meeks, who taught her the importance of appreciating, valuing and taking pride in her cultural heritage. The second was her political ecology professor, Mr. Brownlow, who was the first person that made her feel that her perspective was important and truly motivated her to pursue a path that was completely unfamiliar.

Initially, Ms. Blair began her undergraduate studies at the University of Miami but was unable to continue after her first year due to financial hardships. According to Ms. Blair, "I knew that I had to work while in school, so I searched for an urban school that would afford me the best opportunities for employment that would accommodate a student schedule. I chose Temple University because they were only a two hour drive from home and they would provide me with the best employment opportunities." Shortly after, Ms. Blair graduated from Temple University with her bachelor's degree in environmental science, and began teaching Columbia Heights. Currently she is working on attaining her master’s degree in teaching (MAT) at the University of Maryland University College.

Ms. Blair became a Great Minds in STEM (GMiS) Champion in April 2014 when she and one of her students attended the organization’s Sneak Peek event at the USA Science & Engineering Festival. There she witnessed first-hand GMiS’ Viva Technology™ program. Following her participation at the Sneak Peek in DC, Ms. Blair took part in the K-12 Educators Institute at the GMiS HENAAC STEM Career Conference in New Orleans, LA. Ms. Blair has become a great steward of STEM Through the conference, she was able to interact with other passionate educators from across the country and in 2015, through her leadership and dedication, she was able to bring the Viva Technology™ program to the students of Columbia Heights.

Outside of the classroom, Ms. Blair enjoys participating in outdoor activities which include hiking, white water rafting, camping, traveling, mentoring, shopping, and engaging in "Science Wednesdays" with her son.

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