By Jaime Watson
Innovation has always been at the forefront of education. At Prime46, innovation through education is one way we help our clients. This comes from “identifying problems, watching and learning from others, developing new methods to address these problems, and iterating on them when these experiments don’t necessarily give you the results you need” (Thompson, 2022).
A master’s in mathematics and twelve years in a classroom taught me the value of innovation both in education and my personal life. We cannot grow if our lives remain stagnant. It was time for a new challenge. In June of 2022, I traded my iPad pen, oversized cardigans, and math textbooks for a new career as a research analyst at Prime46. My teacher friends joked that I was crazy to switch careers with summer rolling in and the life of leisure within my grasp. Knowing innovation is at the heart of education, I didn’t feel like I was leaving a field I loved, just redirecting my passion into a new and exciting adventure.
Always one for self-reflection, I recognize three important ways growth and innovation inspired my career in education and brought me to today. Perhaps they can help inspire you, as well.
When a person makes a sudden change in life, it can go one of two ways. It can be a positive experience or a negative one.
In March of 2020, the world changed for all of us. As COVID-19 began altering life as we knew it, teachers found themselves on the front lines of a rapidly shifting landscape. My friends and I were glued to the tv as events were cancelled. Sunday night, Governor Burgum made the announcement to close all schools in the state. Suddenly my colleagues and I found ourselves in the same boat as educators across the country. We had two weeks to figure out a digital solution for an activity that had always been in person.
Marcus Aurelius wrote, “You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” Teachers found strength. We rose to the challenge of new technology and teaching methods in a matter of days. We poured our heart and soul into making sure we were equipped to handle all that came at us. We came together to share websites, apps, tips, tricks—anything to ensure the success of all our students in this new online learning environment.
It’s rare to have the opportunity to completely rejuvenate your craft. Most professionals do not have the time or mental space to explore new approaches or alternative methods that might revolutionize their industry. For good or bad, COVID forced education to innovate and grow. We were able to catch up with other industries in terms of technology. The classroom I left was a far cry from the one I started in 12 years ago. It was beyond imagining.
Prime46 provides slightly less drastic change. We are an agile team of advisors—providing actionable consulting solutions that originate from a deeper understanding of business and customers. Our customers come to us for change. We provide it through education and research. In many ways, the adaptability I learned as a teacher during COVID has allowed me to nurture growth for myself and clients through change.
There is a difference between grudgingly accepting change and wholeheartedly embracing it. While accepting change can provide workable solutions, embracing change can be an adventure. Sam Thompson (2022) wrote, “Embracing innovation in education promotes critical thinking, a sense of adventure, and an openness to adapt that will serve our students in the classroom. It will provide them with the necessary tools to tackle the challenges of their future workplace and give them the confidence and skill to continue to adapt.”
When I read this article by Thompson, it truly resonated with me, especially the sense of adventure and confidence. I have always loved the unique perspectives I gain from travel. Whether it was sitting in a pub in London that is older than the United States, running the original marathon route in Athens, Greece, or searching for ghosts at the heart of Auld Reekie under the streets of Edinburgh, Scotland, my adventures have provided me the confidence to tackle transforming challenges.
Travel has also exposed me to different and unique cultures that have shaped who I am today. I began my teaching career in North Carolina. I lived there for five years, and I can 100% tell you it is a completely different cultural experience than North Dakota. I loved every minute of it. It opened my eyes to a public school system different than anything I had ever known. The experiences I gained helped give me the confidence to fight for injustices in the public schools and elsewhere.
As I settle into my career here at Prime46, I appreciate the insight and grit my experiences have provided. Change can be a catalyst for adventure. Embracing innovation promotes confidence to help tackle challenges. As an advisory team, we can provide solutions that shake up the status quo and help clients confidently implement them for success.
Any big idea starts with a dream. This could be a dream you had as a small child or one that you developed later in life. Putting your dream into reality, that can be the scary part. Why? Because we are programmed to fear failure. However, I think Erin Hanson said it best, “What if we fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?”
Leaving an industry after more than a decade was scary. I was comfortable in the classroom. But when you’re comfortable, your dreams and goals have a tendency to disappear. You don’t go out of your way to learn new things, meet new people, or challenge yourself.
Jason Frizzell (2014) wrote, “Dreams speak of hope, innovation lives it.” As a woman in STEM and as a head track coach, representation has always been important to me. I am constantly dreaming up ideas of how I can help implement why representation matters. It wasn’t until I left my comfort zone and met some amazing women coaches in Wisconsin and Minnesota that my dream started to become a reality. I am currently building the North Dakota chapter of Women4Women coaching, a group whose mission is to empower female coaches and, in turn, female student-athletes to live their best lives. We do this through developing self-worth, identity, respect, body-image satisfaction, community, independence, and leadership.
I couldn’t do it alone, though. I’ve relied heavily on the wisdom and support of the other female coaches and Women4Women chapters. This connection has helped me learn to dream big and surround myself with a community who will continue to inspire and educate me for the rest of my life. This value is mirrored in the work of Prime46. I find myself supporting clients in the same way fellow women coaches have supported me.
Never Stop Learning
Without change, embracing the unknown, and dreaming big, my life would not be what it is today. Recognizing that change can be a catalyst for positive things in life is an important first step to growth. So don’t run from it, embrace it. This will lead to a sense of adventure in life and inspire you to do things you might not have ever thought possible. Finally, dream big and don’t get too comfortable. Surround yourself with positive people, and you will rise above your greatest expectations.
For businesses looking to use the power of research and consulting to accelerate and amplify the change you need to lead your organization to even greater effectiveness and confidence, let’s work together. Prime46 brings solutions for innovation and growth that can push your business to the next level. I have witnessed firsthand how these principles transform businesses. Imagine what they can do for your company.
About Jaime Watson
For the last decade, Jaime Watson has worked as an Instructional Leader and Curriculum Developer for high school students. She brings exceptional academic expertise and a balance of traditional and innovative education styles to the Prime46 team. As a Research Analyst, Watson is an expert when it comes to data aggregation and analysis. She has a special knack for taking complex data and effectively communicating it with clients and has often been entrusted with sensitive or confidential findings.