Introduction: We are excited to continue our Educator Spotlight series, which regularly will bring you inside the classroom of one of our exceptional educators. In doing so, the series will offer you a glimpse of how Gibbons educators care for and engage students, preparing them for college and beyond while forming them as men and women of faith, service, and leadership in church and community. Today, we are spotlighting Technology Educator Jon Armfield. Our other spotlights featured Drama Educator Kevin Ferguson, Social Studies Educator Jessica Lowe '99, Spanish Educator Miguel Casas, Math Educator Leah Iyer ' 08, Science Educator Joleen Smith, Theology Educator Austin Faur, and English Educator Maria Hill.
It is a room filled with gadgets, gears, and gizmos. It is Room 120, aka the Makerspace, where innovation and creativity meet. It is where Gibbons Educator Jon Armfield teaches his seventh- period Principles of Engineering Class.
When students step into Jon’s class they essentially take on the role of engineer, learning the skills to become critical thinkers and problem solvers and, in the process, how to turn ideas into reality. During a recent class, students work in pairs, programming computers and using various engineering principles to create can crushers or marble sorters from blueprints and their imaginations.
“The hope is that students learn to solve problems creatively as well as gain both an appreciation for machines we use every day and a practical understanding of how to create them,” says Jon of the goal of the class. A Gibbons Educator for six years, Jon also chairs the Technology Department.
With the sound of classic rock playing in the background Jon circulates the room, engaging with each pair, asking questions, introducing different engineering challenges, and at times offering a design suggestion or two. In between, he always has an amusing story or anecdote to share.
Students appreciate Jon’s easy-going and affable personality as well as the college-like environment of his class. They also know firsthand that if they need help, he has plenty to offer.
It is, however, Jon’s excitement for his subject that is so inspiring. Proof of that is the encouraging way he leads his students to those “ah-ha moments” when they realize both their potential and their path forward.