Thursday, September 21, 2017

Spotlight on CEE Presenter: Jayme Cellitioci


FourSight preference: Ideator/Implementer

Childhood dream: to study and protect the ocean

Currently proud of: the reach she has with her work at the National Inventors Hall of Fame through Camp Invention

Dream for the future: to impact as many parents as possible through her words around weaving science into everyday family life in a humble, engaging way

Jayme is happiest with her “feet in two worlds.” She grew up fascinated by the sea and wanted to study marine biology as far back as she can remember. She studied aquatic ecology in high school, but fell in love with the social sciences when she got to college. She found a winning combination in a psychology/biology program focused on marine mammals. Since then she has been combining her love and knowledge of the ocean and science at large with her interest in people and their potential.

But, like most people, her path to where she is now is not a straight line. “I was working for the Maui Ocean Center as the director of education when I reached a point where I felt a little like a doctor that did pre-med but not medical school. I felt some skills gaps, particularly in the areas of management and leadership, that made me want to feel more equipped.” Jayme decided to move back to her hometown of Buffalo, NY to explore her options and began working at the Buffalo Museum of Science. There, she noticed a folder on the desk of a co-worker. It happened to be about the creativity program at Buffalo State. “And I thought, this might be exactly right.

After finishing her master’s degree at the ICSC, Jayme found herself in yet another certificate program across the U.S. at Oregon State. This time she was focusing on “free-choice learning.” “I used to feel like a ‘pseudo-teacher’ because I was always drawn to the education department of places like museums and aquariums, and people would ask me ‘Are you a teacher?’ And I’d say no. And then I found out I was part of this whole world of ‘informal learning’ or ‘free-choice learning,’ which is any learning that happens outside of the classroom. It’s all about following one’s own curiosity and often involves hands-on, immersive experiences.”

And these figurative and quite literal zig-zags of Jayme’s experience are no surprise when you learn that her personal motto, and the title of her talk at the Creativity Expert Exchange, is “Wonder is my compass.” From filling up journals with everything she knew about the ocean as a child to flying to Australia for 3 months with just $200 in her pocket as a young adult, to her work in Hawaii, her degree in Buffalo, and program in Oregon, Jayme was certainly living by her motto.

Until she wasn’t anymore.

In 2015, Jayme started writing a book with her motto as the title. “As I began writing, I really started reflecting on whether I was living the phrase. I felt like instead of using wonder as my compass, I had started using fear as my compass.” Jayme, being drawn toward the sea, had long wanted to live in California but had let her fear of the unknown keep her from doing it. “After stopping in California for a quick visit on the way home from Maui, I decided to take the leap. I feel like there are often two distinct choices in the way that I can live my life– to be uncomfortably comfortable, or to be wildly uncomfortable on the way to fulfilling a higher vision.”

Now Jayme lives with her family in northern California, where she works remotely for the National Inventors Hall of Fame creating science and creativity-based experiences for school-age children. “The most exciting part is that I spend time with the inventors we induct into the Hall of Fame to glean wisdom from them, then I take those insights and use them as the clay to mold the programs that we have for children in grades pre-K–12. It is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with our nation’s greatest innovators and to give them the chance to pay forward their insights into the invention process.” Jayme designs and pilots the programs (looking at everything from instructor background information to materials, etc.) that then get sent to schools all over the country. “I explicitly use my creativity training, including CPS, every single day in my job. I am grateful to combine the two areas for which I have the most passion—creativity and science.”

Next on the horizon for Jayme is her soon-to-be published book Wonder is my Compass, which is about weaving science into everyday family life (keep an eye out for it in the ICSC Press!). And surely, with wonder as her compass, much more is yet to come from Jayme.

Don’t miss Jayme’s CEE talk on “Wonder is my Compass.” She says, “You can really plug any topic into the story I’m going to tell, which is, ‘How do you embrace the true definition of creativity - going from the state of what is to the state of what you hope and want it to be?’”

Spotlight interview conducted by Sara Smith.  Sara is an educator and writer and is wildly curious about the link between learning and creativity. She graduates from the ICSC with her master's degree this December. You can find her co-administrating the community Parenting for Creativity on Facebook or at her website

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