Each summer, as part of our 20-month Camp Invention® curriculum development process, members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) education team travel to school districts across the country to pilot ideas and activities in a process known as Vanguard.
One of our favorite Vanguard locations to visit each summer is Toledo Christian, which has been involved in the Vanguard process since 2003. This past June, we had the opportunity to sit down with Jeanne Segler and Kara Segler, director and assistant director of Toledo Christian’s Vanguard program, to learn more about their experiences.
NIHF: How long have you been involved with Camp Invention and The National Inventors Hall of Fame?
Jeanne Segler: As a school we brought the program in starting in 2003, and I inherited the director position starting in 2006.
Kara Segler: That’s also when I started helping out as a counselor (known today as Leadership Intern). I did that through high school and then once I entered college, I began assisting my mother and have been doing that ever since.
Jeanne Segler: We really function as co-directors – we divide and conquer, and it works really well.
Kara Segler: Because we have over a hundred campers this year, it’s important that things work logistically and that the instructors feel supported.
NIHF: Could you both speak a little about the Vanguard process from your perspective?
Jeanne Segler: I’m very careful with who I recruit, because the educators at Vanguard need to be flexible and think on their feet. They have to be like a chameleon and change colors depending on what challenges come their way.
Kara Segler: It’s a beautiful process to watch because they’re learning skills they can use in their teaching. I taught Vanguard for a few years and I realized, “Oh, I’m gleaning these things that I can use in my own classroom” – to not be so rigid and be willing to try new things. It reminds you of what education should be, and sometimes you can get in a box and forget.
Jeanne Segler: It’s fascinating to observe and watch the whole creative process right there in front of you, and listening to the conversations that the curriculum writers have with those who are purchasing the materials. It really is an honor and a privilege to be a part of this magnificent organization that’s transforming our children and our nation.
NIHF: What would you tell an educator who might be interested in bringing Camp Invention to their school?
Jeanne Segler: In my opinion, there is nothing more valuable and educational that a child could do with their summer than to spend it at Camp Invention. It’s worth every bit of investment and it is crucial to the cognitive and emotional development of those who attend.
Kara Segler: Camp Invention is important because children are able to develop multiple skills – it’s not just engineering and technology. Students are also learning how to communicate and collaborate with each other. As a teacher, those skills are difficult to teach. Here, they have to learn how to work together and sometimes with people who they might not be comfortable working with.
Jeanne Segler: For children, their language is play and fun. If you speak their imagination language and combine it with learning how to problem solve and how to design and create, they are no longer afraid of pursing their ideas.
NIHF: Thank you both so much for everything you do, and the impact that you have on our program and ultimately on the children who you teach.
Kara Segler: That’s what motivates us.
Jeanne Segler: That’s the cool thing for us – throwing that pebble into the pond and knowing that the ripples will go on forever.