Leadership summit enriches Donovan Catholic teacher


By David Karas | Correspondent

Christine Mooney of Donovan Catholic High School, Toms River, poses for a photo during her summer trip to Berlin. Courtesy photo.

In the time-honored tradition of sharing summer memories and highlights on the first day of school, at least one Donovan Catholic High School, Toms River, teacher likely gave some of her students a run for their money.

Christine Mooney, director of instructional technology and a French, English and yearbook teacher, spent part of her summer traveling to Berlin, Germany, to participate in the Global Leadership Summit hosted by Education First (EF). The theme of the gathering, “The Influence of Technology on Society,” challenged students from around the world to consider technology and its impact on the environment, communication, the economy, culture, and health and wellness.

During the program, students worked in groups with peers representing different cultures, and sometimes even speaking different languages. There, they learned about design thinking, a creative problem-solving process for identifying an issue and developing a technological solution.

“At the summit, I learned about the term and strategies for implementing ‘Design Thinking’ into the curriculum,” said Mooney, adding that she has included some basic elements of design thinking into her teaching back home in the past. “I previously have incorporated projects into my curriculum that require students to create products to demonstrate the concepts we are studying.”

Mooney worked with a team of fellow educators to listen to the final presentations of different groups, each of which presented a prototype for a technological solution to the problem they were provided. The panel then shared constructive feedback, and the winning group’s presentation will be displayed in the Nobel Museum, alongside Nobel Prize winners, in Stockholm, Sweden.

“It was incredibly inspiring and hopeful to see the work of these teens,” she said. “I am so thankful I had this opportunity. As a lifelong learner, I want to incorporate some of the strategies in use at the summit, and the history I saw in the vibrant mix of old and new in the city, into my classes.”

Mooney said that the summit provided her with additional tools and ideas to bring back to her own classroom.

“I especially like the idea of giving the students more control in their creation,” she said. “Letting their imagination, curiosity and creative abilities drive a project hopefully will provide a deeper learning experience. I have some ideas formulating for projects to incorporate in my classes.”

One of the key takeaways for Mooney was the importance of students learning about the world, as well as learning to become global-minded citizens.

“Technology has made the world a much smaller place,” she said. “Understanding different cultures, and hopefully perspectives, is crucial to creating an atmosphere of peace and love where Christian values permeate.”

She continued, “As I watched the presentations the student groups made at the summit, I was inspired by the empathy, teamwork and the solutions they put forward. The world needs future educated, insightful leaders. I hope to help students become those leaders.”

In a recent interview, Mooney also reflected on the role she and her fellow teachers – at Donovan Catholic and across the Diocese of Trenton – play in that important objective.

“It is our responsibility as educators, especially Catholic educators, to teach our students to respect all God’s people,” she said. “This is essential as we lead our students on their paths of being responsible and insightful global citizens.”

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