As our world changes rapidly around us, HSE’s classrooms and learning environments have been following suit. Meet the Fishers Maker Playground’s Teacher-in-Residence, Jennifer Suskovich. As one of two new teachers-in-residence with the new Fishers Parks and HSE Schools partnership, Suskovich gives 5th graders from all over the district the opportunity to learn science in a non-traditional manner.
Suskovich, a Hoosier native, began her teaching experience with Warren Township. She taught there for a few years before transitioning to HSE Schools. “I was excited about the growth coming into Hamilton Southeastern Schools,” she said, “so in 2001, I applied and was able to get my first job in the district.”
For the past 20 years, Suskovich has been teaching science to 5th and 6th graders. The addition of Fishers Maker Playground, a 15,000-square-foot public makerspace inside the Hub & Spoke building and ran by Fishers Parks, to the HSE experience is a program that Suskovich is excited to continue. “I’m looking at this program as a way to reach out to more kids that age and get them thinking about how they can make improvements and put a stamp on their community.”
Suskovich is also no stranger to makerspaces, a collaborative environment where makers work together on projects using technology and various other tools. About three or four years ago, using grant funds, she created her own makerspace from scratch. She said, “I just got glue guns and small items that we could have in the classroom and I made my own classroom a makerspace.”
A typical day in the program will consist of two back-to-back study trips and experiences. Suskovich says for the first trip, one group of students will tour the makerspace and the Maker Playground area, while the other group explores the surrounding trails. The Nickel Plate and Cheeney Creek trails will allow the students to contemplate the question, “How can we make this area more integrated for kids our age?”
Beyond the space, Suskovich is hoping this experience is a memorable one for students. “I don’t want it to be a study trip where they come here and then they leave and that’s the last they think of it.” She is optimistic that this experience will be one of connection, growth, and learning. One that leaves a mark not only on their school experience, but also on the community around them.
When she’s not creating science adventures for students, she loves exploring local Fishers parks and businesses such as Ritchey Woods Nature Preserve, Jack Rabbit, and Gallery 116. Her favorite way to spend a Saturday is going to the Fishers Farmers’ Market with her husband, and then hiking at any of the state parks.
Laura Masoni is the Public Relations Intern for the City of Fishers. She moved to Fishers from Greenwood in 2010. Her favorite activities include traveling, rowing at Eagle Creek, and going to concerts in Downtown Indy. In her free time, she loves to hang out with her friends and listen to podcasts & music.