Braitmayer Foundation Grant Funds Shorewood-UWM Teaching Fellows Program on Passages Design

A grant from the Braitmayer Foundation supported a Shorewood Design Thinking Teaching Fellows program facilitated by faculty and staff from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (UWM) Lubar Center for Entrepreneurship and organized over several workshops between October-December 2021. The purpose of the program was to design new Passages experiences for students at Shorewood Intermediate School (SIS) and Shorewood High School (SHS) that could effectively build upon the Expeditionary Learning program for Shorewood elementary students, offering older students an opportunity to reflect upon their growth as learners. 


A cohort of ten Shorewood Teaching Fellows, comprised of seven SHS staff and three SIS staff, were invited to participate in the program over the course of multiple workshop sessions held between October and December 2021. The UWM Lubar Center team incorporated Design Thinking principles into the workshop activities, guiding the Shorewood Teaching Fellows through an iterative creative process to conceptualize new Passages experiences for Shorewood students. 


The Shorewood Teaching Fellows Cohort included the following teachers from SHS:

  • Amelia Hernandez (Art Teacher) 
  • Stephen Kerns (Math Teacher) 
  • Hayley Kutz (English Teacher) 
  • Lisa McFarland (French Teacher) 
  • Jess Mohagen (Art Teacher) 
  • Nikki Settingsgaard (Special Education Teacher) 
  • Gina Schindel (Physics Teacher)

The following teachers from SIS also participated:

  • Alexis McDowell (Social Studies and English Teacher)
  • Kristina Stridde (Social Studies Teacher)
  • Marcy Berenschot (English Teacher)

The following team members from UWM’s Lubar Entrepreneurship Center guided and facilitated the Shorewood Design Thinking Teaching Fellows workshop sessions:


  • Ilya Avdeev (Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering)
  • Brian Thompson (President of the UWM Research Foundation, Inc. and Director of the UWM Lubar Entrepreneurship Center)
  • Nicole Powley (Assistant Director for Programs, UWM Lubar Entrepreneurship)

The program capitalized on the opportunity for Shorewood teachers to receive professional development through a special collaboration with faculty from UWM, located just one mile from the Shorewood High School campus, building upon previous interactions and partnership activities between Shorewood and UWM. 


Design Thinking, which originated at Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (a.k.a., the d.school), 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.  


The Shorewood Design Thinking Teaching Fellows program was broken up into five sessions.

Each session included Design Thinking activities, interviews with students, group brainstorming sessions, and other exercises designed to generate creative ideas from the Teaching Fellows and promote empathy and student-centered design for Passages. Homework assignments were given out to Fellows to complete in between sessions. Over the five sessions, the three UWM Lubar Center facilitators led the Teaching Fellows on a journey to consider an optimal framework for the new Passages experiences for students. 


During the fifth and final session, the SIS Teaching Fellows group and the SHS Teaching Fellows group presented their ideas for what the new Passages experiences could look like for both Shorewood Intermediate School and Shorewood High School students, offering 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 versions that could be considered for adoption. 


The next steps proposed by the Teaching Fellows group included:

  • Gather Additional Student Input
  • Share Ideas and Consult with Other Teachers and Staff
  • Tie the Plan for Passages Back to District Goals, Criteria and Rubric Building
  • Develop a Timeline
  • Consider Logistics, Resources Needed for Implementation

The group is now in the process of going through each of these steps to share the Teaching Fellows work on the new Passages design. 


“This creative process would not have been possible without the Braitmayer Foundation’s generous support,” said Shorewood School District Superintendent Dr. JoAnn Sternke. 

About the UWM Lubar Entrepreneurship Center:

UWM’s Lubar Entrepreneurship Center engages the community to strengthen and expand entrepreneurship programs. As an active participant and contributor to the National Innovation Network, a grantee of the National Science Foundation-funded National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation at Stanford University, and a partner with VentureWell, the UWM Lubar Entrepreneurship Center has developed programming informed by state of-the-art practices, educational research, and Design Thinking approaches. 

About the Braitmayer Foundation:

The Braitmayer Foundation, located in Marion, Massachusetts, was established in 1964 through a gift from Marian S. Braitmayer. The Foundation has supported innovative practices in K-12 education throughout the United States, including curricular and school reform initiatives, professional development opportunities for teachers, and programs that help encourage people of high ability and diverse background to enter and remain in K-12 teaching.

View photos from the UWM Design Thinking Teaching Fellows Workshops here.