Beth & Kirsten

Beth Hamilton
Principal
Wilburton Elementary
Bellevue, WA

Kirsten Pickering
Instructional Technology Curriculum Leader
Wilburton Elementary
Bellevue, WA

A groundbreaking new school championing creativity and STEM

Beth Hamilton is the principal of a brand new school, opening in the autumn of 2018. Wilburton Elementary will be the first built-from-the-ground-up elementary school in Bellevue since the 1970’s. With a population that’s nearly doubled since 1980, the district was in need of a new school to relieve overcrowding at three nearby schools. The school has a clear vision to provide all students with a relevant, adaptive and rigorous learning experience.

Wilburton is guided by the Microsoft Education Transformation Framework. It’s a unique and ambitious project with a goal to become a lighthouse in the district - a school that is continually learning and sharing ideas with the rest of the community, especially when it comes to the use of technology in the classroom. Wilburton will also be the first school in the district to have a makerspace and has been constructed with built-in flexibility. From internet bandwidth to geothermal heating & cooling to shared learning spaces designed to spark creativity, Wilburton has innovation at its core.

Before becoming a principal, Beth was a third and fifth grade teacher for many years. She was also an instructional coach before acquiring her principal certification. Beth enjoys the wider impact she can have as a principal.

“I love teaching and collaborating with adults as well because you can see as many results or even more with the kids. It’s bigger impact.”

SAM Labs will support the integration of computational thinking and computer science into the curriculum at Wilburton and across the district. As a Microsoft showcase school, the leadership team is always thinking of the best ways to meet the needs of the students in an innovative way. Beth says SAM Labs is a great match to their vision and they will be using the kits to teach computer science as well as in the makerspace:

“As we build and look to the future at Wilburton, we want computer science and computational thinking as a STEM component to be an every teacher, every student, every day possibility. The more resource we have to be able to support kids from preschool all the way to fifth grade, the better off we are. Teachers this day and age are not trained, to be computer scientists. So if we can put the products and activities in their hands that they can also learn and do, the better. And SAM Labs is that kind of product.”

Beth wants Wilburton to teach students skills for their future and believes computational thinking and computer science will unlock the jobs of the future

“These are the skills they’re going to need in life beyond school so we need to be innovative and think about content in a different way. We’re not the gateway to content anymore, kids can go and get that. We  need to be able to teach kids to apply that learning and integrating the computer science piece of it is a great way to do this.”

Kirsten is the instructional coach and shares Beth’s passion for innovation in the classroom:

“In school we need to continue to embrace and support kids curiosity and love for learning. Finding different ways of engaging students to do that has always been a passion of mine.”

Beth and Kirsten became excited about the possibilities of SAM Labs after some of the team came out for their family night to demonstrate the kits. Wilburton kids got hands-on with the kits and began to create.

“The capabilities are unlimited when it comes to the creative piece and creating something that a child has a passion for or wants to do. So that’s what really excites me about it.”

For Beth, how kids are learning is just as important as what they are learning,

“Learners are at their best when they have the right environment to thrive in including everything from the way technology is used to how learning spaces are optimised to support collaboration, active engagement and deep learning.”

The future is bright for Wilburton and its new student body and we can’t wait to hear how they get on!