We think our Common Sense Ambassadors are worth knowing. Here's the first in a series of spotlights.
The Common Sense Ambassadors are an exceptional group of Common Sense Certified education leaders who share their passion and inspiration about our mission with others.
Today we're spotlighting Ambassador Eric Butash.
What do you do?
I'm currently the director of operations for the Highlander Institute in Providence, Rhode Island. The Highlander Institute is an education nonprofit organization focused on researching, developing, and disseminating innovative educational methods to accelerate improved outcomes for all learners. The Highlander Institute has established itself as a leading collaborator and national leader in blended learning and education innovation. My role at the Institute is focused on internal operations of the organization while providing Institute staff with information on the technology and infrastructure health of partnering districts/organizations.
How is Common Sense Education's mission making a difference in your work?
Since our organization often plays the role of thought partner or coach for educators around blended learning, we include various safeguards and content around digital citizenship. For years, I have been recommending Common Sense resources to educators, parents, and students. These tools give teachers and parents a critical "how to" guide for raising children in today's digital age. Often when I present the hidden dangers of online behavior, people ask where can they go for ways to help educate themselves. The simple answer is Common Sense.
Describe a digital learning project or initiative that you're currently working on.
I'm currently working with the RISTE (Rhode Island Society of Technology Educators) organization to start a district-embedded Common Sense Certified Educators course. Following the success of the Indiana and San Diego programs, I've been mobilizing Rhode Island as another location where we can widely implement a Common Sense Certified Educator train-the-trainer program. We've had several meetings with Common Sense's senior director, Jeff Mao, and have a tentative cohort launch date this coming January.
What are you most excited about in education?
I am excited about the potential impact and possibilities for scale in successfully launching a Rhode Island train-the-trainer program. In many of our partner districts, digital citizenship instruction falls on the library/media specialist. This work should be shared by the full faculty, with elements of digital citizenship integrated into class work throughout the school year. I'm hopeful that our efforts will inspire every Rhode Island educator to become Common Sense-certified.
Why did you become a Common Sense Ambassador?
I've spent the past three years underscoring the importance of digital citizenship in our community by leading presentations, panel discussions, and town halls. The Ambassador program is highly aligned to my work and connects me with other leaders in the field. I believe in the mission of Common Sense Education and am passionate about arming parents and teachers with critical information that is often missing from conversations.
Interested in becoming a Common Sense Ambassador? Since we offer this opportunity to our current Certified Educators, we encourage educators to consider pursuing one of our certifications. Learn more about our Certification program. Applications for the Ambassador Program are sent in July.