We are inspired by Amanda Smith, director of the K-12 Engagement Network for Penn State Outreach. We recently spoke with her about her new position and initiative for K-12 educators.
Tell me about your role with Penn State Outreach.
My role is to help support new connections, inspire partnerships, and offer strategies to work with K-12 schools in our Commonwealth and beyond.
How does your work impact the communities within Penn State Outreach?
My main goal is to bring awareness and elevate how Penn State impacts K-12, which includes Outreach and all our Penn State colleges and campuses. As a former teacher and administrator, it is inspiring to experience the vast number of opportunities and resources Penn State currently has to offer to K-12, and the potential for new collaborations and resources that can be developed for K-12. Therefore, my focus is building a strong foundation to leverage relationships with K-12 and helping to build new partnerships and leverage resources that are equitable and accessible to our K-12 communities. We created a one-stop shop to find all things K-12 currently being offered at Penn State through the K-12 Engagement Network website, and we are collaborating with the College of Education and the School Study Council to offer the Education for the Future Webinar series — a look into innovations and best practices occurring in the K-12 space that can assist Penn State K-12 programming and our schools. The Education for the Future webinar series will be expanded into workshops and a 3-day summit to develop school-university partnerships with Penn State entities ready to pilot collaborative projects with K-12.
How do you hope to see your position grow during your time with Penn State?
I want to grow Penn State as a strong asset for current K-12 students, teachers, and administrators. I want schools to see the endless opportunities that are here for them now and how our land-grant institution is for everyone, not only for graduating high schoolers headed off to college. As Pennsylvania’s land-grant institution, I hope to set an example for other land-grant institutions on how you can further engage and work with schools and communities.
What about your work makes you most proud?
I am building further connections and helping colleges and Commonwealth campuses with their k-12 outreach strategy — it’s rewarding to experience how many faculty and staff want to engage more with the K-12 community.
What advice would you offer to individuals who are interested in making a greater impact in their respective fields?
LEAN IN!! Take advantage of every connection and opportunity that may not fold into your work at this moment in time but can in the future if you want it to.