Shorewood Completes Year Two of Design Thinking Fellows Program

The Shorewood School District wrapped up its second year of the Design Thinking Fellows program, a partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s (UWM) Lubar Entrepreneurship Center that cultivates innovative, student-centered approaches to teaching and instruction to advance Authentic Learning in grades 7-12. The program, supported by grant funding from the Shorewood SEED Foundation and the Shorewood Excellence in Teaching Fund, taps into UWM’s expertise to provide professional development and training in Design Thinking techniques for Shorewood teachers.

A total of nine Shorewood teachers participated in this year’s program: Sara Kitzinger Anton, Renee Glembin, Ebony Grice, Angela Hamouda, Annette Koerten, Susan Leslie, Sarah Milia, Elysha Rice, and Krystle Thomas. The Design Thinking Fellows cohort participated in a final session on February 23, where each teaching fellow invited another Shorewood teacher who had not yet experienced the program to learn more about Design Thinking. Representatives from the Shorewood SEED Foundation and the Shorewood Excellence in Teaching Fund also attended the session. The session participants experienced a number of exercises that introduced them to the Design Thinking brainstorming process.

The Design Thinking approach, which originated at Stanford University’s, begins with empathy, which offers a better understanding of the roots of a problem or challenge by seeing it through the perspective of the people who are experiencing it. Once the problem is clearly understood, the next step is to explore a wide range of possible solutions, and then to test these potential solutions through rapid prototyping and piloting, adjusting and repeating as necessary through an iterative process of improvement. The final step is to implement the optimized solution. Design Thinking has been used for a variety of different applications, from developing new products, to overcoming engineering obstacles, redesigning patient experiences in the hospital ER, and for Shorewood teaching fellows rethinking their classroom curriculum and instruction.

As their empathy exercise this year, the Design Thinking Fellows shadowed a student to better understand what their daily school experience was like. For the teachers, this exercise provided greater insight into students’ perspectives and generated ideas on how best to optimize their learning experiences, particularly with respect to the implementation of Authentic Learning.

The Shorewood School District defines Authentic Learning as educational experiences that connect students’ skills and knowledge to real-world issues and needs. Students participate in research and reflection, collaborate with peers, and engage with community partners to advance their learning and present high-quality work to audiences beyond the classroom. These educational experiences build character and citizenship and prepare students for their future in college and careers.

The UWM personnel who help facilitate the Design Thinking Fellows program include Brian Thompson, Director of the UWM Lubar Entrepreneurship Center and President of the UWM Research Foundation, Ilya Avdeev, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the UWM Student Startup Challenge, and Nicole Green, Program Manager of the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center. The Shorewood School District administrative leaders for the program are Director of Curriculum and Instruction Tim Joynt and Authentic Learning Coordinator Nate Schultz.

“This year’s Design Thinking Fellows cohort had great energy and enthusiasm, and we are excited about what they accomplished this year,” said Joynt. “We are grateful to the Shorewood SEED Foundation and the Shorewood Excellence in Teaching Fund for supporting this partnership with the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center at UWM.”

For more information about the program, contact Tim Joynt at or Nate Schultz at