Katie Trowbridge: Transforming Education for the Future

Katie Trowbridge: Transforming Education for the Future | The Enterprise World

After the COVID-19 pandemic, the education sector was struck with several challenges. These include a decrease in the number of teachers who remain in the profession and feel motivated. Remote learning and hybrid teaching models have made it difficult for educators to navigate these circumstances. Consequently, students are finding it more challenging to stay engaged, which is impacting their ability to think critically.

However, the problems have not stopped some education leaders. These dedicated leaders have found new ways to help fix the gaps in education made worse by the pandemic.

Katie Trowbridge, President and CEO at Curiosity 2 CREATE, is a prime example of a leader in the education sector committed to delivering impactful work and encouraging innovation. She possesses the skills essential to leading a nonprofit organization and offers specialized services to her students and other educators. Her initiative arises from a passion for improving learning experiences and preparing students for the future. 

Tracing the Early Years

Katie Trowbridge began working in the education sector after having success in marketing. One day, as Katie sat at her desk reading a company mission statement, she started to rethink her own life’s purpose. Reflecting on her passion for working with teenagers, she co-founded the non-profit KidsMatter, focusing on K12 students’ social-emotional needs.

Eventually, she switched to teaching and committed to earning a Master’s Degree in Teaching while working full-time and raising her family.  After student teaching at Naperville North High School, Katie continued her teaching career at NNHS, making room 246 a special place for students while participating in multiple district committees.     

In 2015, she took a yearlong sabbatical from teaching and worked with the Driskill Foundation and as Director of Education. During this break, she worked with Chicago Public Schools, the Museum of Science and Industry, and other education entities.  After returning to the classroom for ten years, she was asked to return to the Driskill Foundation as President and CEO of a new non-profit called Curiosity 2 CREATE.

Katie Trowbridge is well-versed in creating and teaching courses to help teachers infuse their curriculum with deeper thinking skills, collaboration, and communication, ultimately resulting in engagement and greater gains in learning. She shows educators relevant and meaningful ways to ignite curiosity, incorporate more profound thinking skills, and create caring classrooms pursuing an Ed.D. in Innovative Teaching and Learning Katie’s creative personality and passion for teaching are apparent when you watch her energy on stage as a keynote speaker and workshop leader.

Co-founding the Creative Thinking Network with Dr. Cyndi Burnett, Katie envisions building a global community of educators supporting creative classrooms. With her wealth of experience, multiple degrees, and communicable interests, she offers personalized professional development to empower educators and enhance classroom creativity. 

Exploring the Roots

Curiosity 2 CREATE is a non-profit organization that helps teachers make learning more meaningful and relevant to today’s students. After years of experience, Katie Trowbridge saw that teachers often dreaded professional development.  It might be delivered by non-educators less engagingly.  Therefore, Katie and her team of teachers needed to create a professional development for teachers by teachers. Using a method called CREATE, the Curiosity 2 CREATE team of educators coaches teachers by revising their existing curriculum to reflect aspects such as curiosity, risk-taking, open-mindedness, and deferring judgment. With these strategies, teachers create lessons where students are thinking in creative and critical ways,

is relevant, failures are celebrated, and teachers are seen as educational guides. The goal is to make classrooms a great place to learn.      

The Spark Behind the Startup 

Katie Trowbridge joined Curiosity 2 CREATE because she noticed students were not as curious and excited about learning. As a teacher, she saw students not thinking creatively and critically. Katie believes asking “What if?” and “Why?” is crucial for learning.  After years of research and trial and error in her own classroom, Katie found that creative and critical thinning is not only for students but also for teachers.

Inspired by IBM (2010), World Economic Forum (2016), and LinkedIn (2019 and 2020), she wants to make sure students are prepared for the future. With a grant from The Driskill Foundation, Katie and her team are working to make schools  a place where students strive to think for themselves, embrace their innate creativity, and work together to find innovative solutions to future problems.      

Tailored Solutions      

Curiosity 2 CREATE focuses on helping school districts improve teachers’ training and learning experience. It provides various products and services like:      

  • Professional Development: Customized sessions for school districts, focusing on creative problem-solving, fostering creativity, and encouraging curiosity among educators.
  • Coaching: Support services for educators to implement creative and engaging lessons, enhancing the overall teaching experience.
  • Online Network: A platform for educators to collaborate, share resources, and discuss innovative teaching practices.
  • Keynote Speakers: Experts who contribute insights on fostering creativity and curiosity in educational settings for events, conferences, and workshops organized by school districts.

Apart from helping teachers, Curiosity 2 CREATE also created an after-school program called “Curious Creators Club,” designed to teach kids in grades K-5 creative problem-solving skills.  Through hands-on and engaging activities, children work together to solve mysteries and create inventions.

The CREATE Method

The CREATE Method represents an innovative approach tailored for teachers to enhance their curriculum planning. In today’s education system, where lesson plans can be strict, teachers often feel limited in expressing their creativity when designing lessons. Developed by teachers for teachers, The CREATE Method serves as a guiding framework for educators, leading them through a structured process to rebuild their existing curriculum.

This method promotes using creative and critical thinking, working together, taking risks, being open-minded, and other necessary elements. Using The CREATE Method helps teachers escape from strict lesson plans, creating a classroom where they can try new and exciting ways of teaching.     

Funding Challenges in Nonprofit Operations

Nonprofit organizations often struggle to secure the necessary funding, but despite this challenge, Katie Trowbridge remained committed to fulfilling Curiosity 2  CREATE’s mission.

Common myths about creativity limit Curiosity 2 CREATE’s influence. The company struggles to convince schools to invest in training teachers to promote creativity in classrooms despite understanding its crucial role. Exposing these myths is important so that people understand how creativity is essential in education.

Here are some myths about creativity:

Shaping Organizational Values

Katie Trowbridge successfully overcame the challenges by embodying and applying the company’s core values. Curiosity 2  CREATE empowers K-12 educators and students by nurturing skills that celebrate natural curiosity and encourage creative and critical thinking. This objective is accomplished through the facility of personalized, practical, relevant, and significant workshops. These sessions actively involve educators in interactive curriculum development activities, guaranteeing a tangible and influential learning journey.

The vision of Curiosity 2  CREATE is to establish a global community where educators and learners wholeheartedly engage in fearless exploration and prioritize creative and critical thinking. This vision reflects the organization’s commitment to promoting a global educational landscape that values curiosity and encourages innovative thinking at all levels of learning.

Pillars of Curiosity 2 CREATE

Mentorship and Collaboration

Valuing education, Curiosity 2  CREATE prioritizes former educators and administrators in the management team. The CREATE Method, developed by teachers for teachers, represents this commitment. With over 75 years of experience in education, the management staff carefully understands the teaching profession.      

With a focus on mentorship and collaboration, the company’s team actively participates in shared learning experiences, faces challenges, finds inspiration, and stays motivated. Team members are encouraged to explore mentorship opportunities within the company and access resources to connect with mentors having expertise in their areas of interest. Regular workshops and training sessions provide avenues for learning from each other’s experiences and skills.

While maintaining stability and profitability is crucial for sustaining the nonprofit, the company identifies that adopting calculated risks is integral to ongoing innovation in the company’s strategies.

Building on Experience and Expertise

The company’s commitment to education is evident in the management team’s work, which includes former educators and administrators. This commitment resulted in the creation of The CREATE Method, a teaching approach made by teachers for teachers. The management team brings over 75 years of educational experience to the table, offering a detailed insight into the field of education.      

Focusing on mentorship and teamwork, Curiosity 2 CREATE develops an environment where team members can learn, challenge, inspire, and support one another. Understanding the value of mentorship, the company actively encourages team members to seek mentorship opportunities, facilitating connections with expert mentors in relevant areas. Regular workshops and training sessions promote the exchange of experiences and skills among team members.

The company prioritizes balancing innovation with stability. Recognizing the importance of taking calculated risks to encourage growth and creativity, the team also understands the necessity of maintaining stability and profitability to ensure the nonprofit’s sustainability. While stability is prioritized, the company recognizes that taking calculated risks is integral to ongoing innovation in strategies.

Excellence in Action

Katie Trowbridge has received the following awards:

  • Stanford Teacher of Excellence 2017, 2003 – awarded by a student who attends Stanford
  • Western Illinois Teacher of Excellence 2013 and 2014 – awarded by a student who attends Western Illinois
  • Wesleyan Teacher of Excellence 2010
  • NNHS Distinguished Educator Award 2002 – 2012, 2018, 2020, 2021 
  • Teacher of Excellence 2003 and 2004– awarded by District 203
  • Who’s Who in Teaching 2004, 2010

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