Aidan and Empow: A Journey
How do you go from Empow student to Empow instructor? Let Aidan Lee show you the way.
It’s a story told a thousand times, yet still so often shrugged off: a student discovers a wellspring of inspiration—a hobby, a specific field of interest, a passion—yet finds that particular pathway surprisingly unattended to in their current educational setting. The desire to explore meaningful subjects, academic or otherwise, that feed a personal or professional goal, but don’t readily fit into the established, traditional school curriculum, too often depends on the expertise and availability of teachers/mentors and budgetary parameters to be truly harnessed. And in an age where financial limitations and core content requirements mostly dictate what transpires in learning environments, passion sometimes gets left at the door.
There’s a tendency to ascribe systemic blame for these shortcomings, but this isn’t about the collective failings of effort; it’s about the lack of means, if anything, to connect a child’s inherent skill set, sensibility, and thought-process to outside-the-box subject matter. Perceived disparity between “general” and “alternative” curriculum and modes of learning has always been a minefield of misinformation, or worse, willful ignorance, but whatever else emerges from the discourse on how to deliver the best education possible for students across the spectrum of learning, it’s that education—exciting, worthwhile pedagogy—can take many forms. Just ask Aidan Lee.
Aidan came to Empow Studios as a student, looking for a place to further his game design and coding skills, areas in which his home school just couldn’t accommodate development. Ultimately, it wasn’t just Empow’s learning environment—a studio dedicated to delivering the most accessible, comprehensive STEM education available with state-of-the-art tech equipment—that hooked him. “The friends I made at [Empow’s] camp and the encouraging atmosphere really kept me coming back,” asserts Aidan.
I think Empow definitely helps kids prepare for careers in today’s increasingly tech-based world…like having a sample of ice cream before digging into a whole pint.Aidan Lee, Empow Instructor
His journey, though, didn’t begin and end with being a student. When he turned 18, Aidan aged out of Empow Studios’ clubs and classes, as well as his role in the Counselor-In-Training program, so he inquired about taking the next logical step in his STEM evolution— becoming an actual Empow instructor. After the requisite interview process and certified training, Aidan was officially on board. “Being a junior mentor was the turning point,” he recalls. “Being able to pass my knowledge on to other students helped [ease] me into the teaching role. It’s been a new perspective for me, but also one I had gotten to sample as a mentor.”
Aidan now teaches game design and coding at Empow’s After School Clubs on weekdays, imparting to new waves of kids the vital learning that sprung from his own experiences in pursuing STEM knowledge outside the confines of a traditional school. “Of all the skills Empow taught me, the most important was problem-solving,” adds Aidan. “Having to debug a game or work around programming limitations prepared me to find my way around more advanced technologies.”
He continues, “I think Empow definitely helps kids prepare for careers in today’s increasingly tech-based world. It helps students find out what they like in the STEM sector, as well as providing some experience. It’s like having a sample of ice cream before digging into a whole pint. As for myself, Empow has helped me follow and more fully understand a hobby of mine.”
Perhaps it’s a story told before, but certainly one worth telling again.