Friday, July 20, 2018


professional photos by Andrew Weeks Photography

So, we got out of school right before Memorial Day, and I found out shortly after that I was accepted into the Google Innovator program for the #LAX18 cohort! My summer plans instantly became 100000x more exciting.

So from July 9-11, I flew into California and got to hang with 37 of my new best friends and seven coaches for some intense training at the Google Venice Beach offices. It was overwhelming and wonderful all at the same time!

My innovator colleague Manuel Herrera @manuelherrera33 drew super cute cartoons of all of us! 

Day one started with a tour of the YouTube Creator Space LA, and then headed over to Google LA for team-building and design thinking intros. We ended the day with a relaxed dinner and got ready for day two, which ran from 8 am to 8 pm!

Day two was an intense day of spark challenges, design thinking, brainstorming, prototyping, testing, and obtaining feedback from our fellow innovators and coaches. We were taught to think big, to start small, and to fail fast! It was incredibly energizing and overwhelming to be around so many like-minded educators and I want to take them all home with me so we can start our own school! :)

deep thoughts at #LAX18
my overflowing vision board for my Innovator Project brainstorming sessions

Day three also started bright and early, was filled with more Sparks and design thinking, and ended with an awesome live-streamed graduation event! I was so excited that my husband, son, mom, and mother-in-law were all able to watch me in California from back home here in the Chicago suburbs. I was a big crybaby because I was so happy and overcome with emotion that the whole experience was ending.

my crew, Team Nacho Mama, and a sappy graduation pic

I am so grateful and amazed that this whole experience happened to me! It pretty much still feels like a dream. I have a lot of work ahead of me in the next year for my innovator project, which will be all about giving teachers a chance to try new things and to re-energize their teaching, which is something I'm really passionate about.

I know my blog post here hasn't done the whole experience justice. Several of my colleagues have also done reflections on #LAX18 that you should also really check out:

I'm so happy and proud of myself for taking a chance and applying to be a Google Certified Innovator. An extra special thank you shout-out goes to Ben Hartman, my colleague at Churchville Middle School and fellow Google Innovator for helping me with the entire application process! I couldn't have done it without you!

- Mrs L.