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You are here: Home Schools Former SHS Teacher Maggie Favretti Continues Groudbreaking Work in Design Thinking and Community Resilience
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Former SHS Teacher Maggie Favretti Continues Groudbreaking Work in Design Thinking and Community Resilience

Kids and recycling copyKids and recycling cop learn about recyclingLongtime teacher and innovator Maggie Favretti retired in June, after teaching for 33 years. But it appears that her work has just begun. Motivated by her success at developing the curriculum for the City 2.0 program and the design thinking courses at SHS, Favretti has now formed designed4resilience.org, to spread these groundbreaking programs to more schools and communities. The organization provides training and mentorship in design thinking for educators of all kinds and consultation for organizations and team seeking change, bridging research and practice in climate change education and community resilience.resilient schoolBuilding a resilient school

Here is an update from Maggie on her journey:

My Scarsdale friends and extended family ask me all the time, “how are things going in Puerto Rico?” It’s a question I love to answer, because against an unimaginably constrained backdrop of colonialism and corruption, amazing things are happening. The tree of innovation and youth empowerment there is mostly a Boricua tree fed by necessity, but it has one root right here in Scarsdale.

When Scarsdale’s Center for Innovation gave Lisa Yokana and me a grant to study design thinking and its implications for the future of education here, it started a movement that, with the help of the Scarsdale Education Foundation, led to our Makerspaces and teaching kids to think and act like innovators at every level. The current successes and deep learning experienced by students in the high school’s Design Lab, everyday design thinking mindsets and skills developing in classrooms, and the City 2.0 public policy class grew from that root. City 2.0 was designed to look closely at what makes communities resilient, and how we could use design thinking to help those around us to better withstand both slow and sudden threats.

On September 7, 2017, 175-mile an hour winds at the edge of Cat 5 Irma knocked power out for Puerto Rico. Two weeks later, while there were still over a million people without power, Maria cut diagonally and slowly across the island. Many people did not know it was coming. Federal neglect, broken government, a tragically understaffed health system, austerity budgeting to pay back debt, and the total loss of communication, energy, food and water infrastructures turned a natural disaster into a humanitarian catastrophe, the effects of which are still being felt today. In spite of all that, in circumstances under which it would be understandable if people left (many have), or gave up (the suicide rate spiked), or lost hope, there is an island full of people who are redefining resilience for the age of climate transformation.

Thanks to City 2.0 and Lynne Shain’s open support for it with the American Superintendents’ Association, I was given the opportunity to go to PR two weeks after Maria (www.city2pt0.org/blog). The relationships that form the means to achieve change began then, and are the foundation of my recovery and resilience work there today. Always handing tools up from the “back seat,” I use design thinking to connect school and university students (and their teachers) with resilient community centers. Together, we are innovating ways to strengthen communities, co-create climate solutions, and engage students in meaningful study and authentic work.

In collaboration with other NGOs and local community leaders, I have been honored to facilitate student design labs creating Resilient Community Hubs (www.resilientsee-pr.com) and disaster risk reduction innovations, to align and connect parallel resilience projects around the island, to assist in the development of climate and community problem solving curriculum, and to help train and support teachers who are using design thinking to heal from disaster and engage their students in work that builds back confidence and optimism. If you are interested in learning more about the background, the progress, and the future of my work, and in learning how you can help, please check out my site at www.designEd4resilience.org and contact me directly at maggie@designEd4resilience.org. In the meantime, enjoy this 4-minute film in which the students attending the first public school in Puerto Rico to use design thinking throughout its program tell you why it works for them. Join me in sharing and supporting their great work. 

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