Making Juan Smile: A Profile in LEGO® Confidence and the Power of Passionate Educators
Juan became a leader on the team, collaborating with his peers and helping to develop solutions on team missions. “That’s what I love about LEGO Education,” says Mann, “It meets you where you are, but challenges you to surpass that and take it as far as you’re willing to go.” Juan was ready for the challenge. In his fifth grade year, he told Mann he wanted to be an engineer. As usual, Mann didn’t hesitate and immediately started working on getting him into the premier STEAM middle school in the district.
Simultaneously, the Agents of Fury were having a terrific season, making the State Championship, winning the Robot Programming award and taking home a big LEGO trophy. Juan was ecstatic, “He’s just holding the trophy the whole way home. I said Juan, you’ve got to let me come to the door so we can show your parents your trophy!” When his parents answered, he translated in a mix of Spanish and Mayan as Mann told them how amazing Juan did in the competition. “I said we’re so proud of him, he’s such a great leader and engineer, and I could see how proud he was for his family to hear this, and that he was filled with a sense of accomplishment and confidence.”
Juan hadn’t just transformed the way he saw himself, his family had changed their perception as well. That Monday Juan came to see Mann in the morning. “He walks up to me and says, ‘Ms. Mann, my dad signed the paperwork so that I can go to Fisher, (the STEAM middle school) can I give it to you?” Mann gets emotional recounting this part of the story.
Now in eighth grade, Juan is thriving at that STEAM focused middle school. He made the A/B Honor Roll in his last quarter. This summer he was back at Innovate!, “He speaks in a clear voice, and if you ask him what he wants to be he still says an engineer,” says Mann proudly. Juan’s story perfectly illustrates the immeasurable impact of dedicated teachers combined with hands-on, experiential learning tools. When students like Juan can build confidence not only in learning but in their personal value, the potential for success in the classroom and beyond is limitless.