June 2019 GeoMentor Spotlight - Shannon White

06-17-2019 11:57 AM
Occasional Contributor
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Each month we feature GeoMentor volunteers to showcase the wonderful talent available in our community to assist K-12 schools.

Read our full collection of GeoMentor spotlights online. Want to be featured? Information is available on our program website.
Name: Shannon H. White
Position/Job and Affiliation: GIS Certificate Coordinator, William & Mary
What was your favorite class in K-12? Geography and of course recess!

How did you first learn about and/or use GIS? I enrolled in a Master's in the College of Education at NC State and my advising professor, Dr. Marsha Alibrandi was offering a semester long course in GIS in Education. It was, to my knowledge, the first of its kind. Many schools offered workshops or a basic overview of GIS in an Instructional Technology class, but this was a full semester course focusing on GIS integration into the classroom.

Name one thing you love about GIS and/or geography (I know, just one!): GIS (and geography) allow for creative problem-solving about real-world problems at so many different scales (local to international).
Why did you want to volunteer as a GeoMentor? I believe in GIS integration in the K-12 classroom, the curiosity and engagement in the world through technology opens doors for students. My whole career since grad school has focused on GIS education in both formal and informal settings. We, as GIS professionals, must be willing to help when called upon to assist teachers. They are content and pedagogy experts, we are technical experts - this is a collaboration that can only help students better understand their world.
What kind of GeoMentor volunteer opportunity and experience are you looking for? It's funny because I am willing to help with any opportunities in a variety of ways. Every month, I sit in on a conference call of 4-H Youth Development Professionals who are integrating GIS, GPS and Drones in a variety of ways in different states. While I worked for 4-H in the past, I see my role in these calls is as  a geomentor to try to help on the technical side to think of ways to encourage youth participation in the geospatial sciences. I have created 1 page tutorials and helped some of the folks through 1:1 Zoom webinars. I have also been called upon by school districts as a "geomentor" to participate in their all-day professional development for 90 social studies teachers. Luckily, I have a background in both GIS and Curriculum & Instruction so it's a good fit when I get that type of request. I have worked with an afterschool girls STEM club to fly drones in the school gymnasium and make maps of their school using ArcGIS Online. My favorite way to assist, honestly, is to simply have a teacher who is curious ask a question of how GIS might fit with what they teach. It is such an open-ended way to start building a relationship with educators and students.
If someone asked you why they should learn about GIS and/or geography, how would you respond in one sentence? Every day you use GIS professionally you will learn something new. It is a technology that is about spatial analysis, interdisciplinary critical thinking, problem-solving and it's fun! Oh, and by the way, there are also great, well-paying jobs out there in this field!
Email address: shwhite@wm.edu
Twitter:  @shannonwhite 
About the Author
Senior Research Geographer with the Association of American Geographers; Map Nerd