Paige Somoza believes teaching and learning are symbiotic in the world of 21st Century education.
“As teachers, we need to show kids we care about the content,” said the Riverglen Junior High School French and world studies teacher.
Somoza, 39, has taught for 13 years for the Boise School District. She was named one of 30 educators national wide as a PBS Digital Innovator All-Star for her innovation in the classroom.
“I want to help teachers build empathy and culture,” she said.
Somoza leads trainings and shares her passion for technology with students and educators throughout the state.
The All-Star role is given annually to teachers in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade who are education thought leaders and classroom change makers and whose innovative use of technology and media create exciting learning experiences for their students.
Exploration and discovery are Somoza’s classroom goals. She aims to help her students develop a multi-perspective view of the world and believes that starts with how students learn. Somoza uses virtual reality to bring students virtually somewhere they would not normally be able to go.
“A lot of kids might not get the chance to travel and I can expose them and hopefully light the spark of interest,” she said. “This gives students a deeper understanding and an enriched learning experience.”
A proponent of project-based learning, Somoza encourages student creativity and thinks these are important skills that will serve students as future problem solvers. Somoza believes education includes equity of access.
“Teaching has changed so much and it’s about being open to learn new things. Technology is relevant to students who are digital natives, as teachers we need to keep up.”
Somoza is integrating technology and digital media into curriculum with fellow teachers. As a PBS Digital Innovator All-Star she is helping introduce augmented reality in Boise schools, training teachers on Google apps and microsoft 365 and using virtual connections in the classroom.
She attended an All-Star Summit and the International Society for Technology in Education Conference in June. This gave Somoza an opportunity to connect with innovators and learn from education experts.
Somoza receives support and tools from Idaho Public Television so she can share ideas on how to integrate technology and digital media into instruction with peers in Idaho and across the nation.
In 2017, Somoza was a PBS Digital Innovator where she participated in professional development, shared PBS resources with Idaho teachers and wrote an educator’s guide for an interactive classroom discussion about the Vietnam War.