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Best of the Week 2019-2020: Teaching to the Future


Coleman Isner '20 has truly embraced the essence of servant leadership and the pedagogical vision of a St. Ed's education through his work in helping to lead, plan and run the second CAMVETS Make-a-thon hosted at St. Edward High School this weekend. During last spring's make-a-thon, Coleman worked as a student volunteer to program a verbal command tablet for a quadriplegic veteran who lost all control of his legs, arms, back and neck due to a spinal cord injury. Unlike other hack-a-thons and make-a-thons he has participated in as a student at St. Ed's, Coleman acknowledged that the CAMVETS Make-a-thon was the first experience where he walked away with a finished product that contributed to someone else's well-being. "Last year's experience with CAMVETS was life-changing," says Coleman. "This make-a-thon is a great way to take the skills learned in the classroom, whether that's engineering or computer science, and turning them around to make something that has value and will help another person's life. We spend a lot of time in class creating webpages or plotting data, but this opportunity is a case where the fluency I've had with technology has allowed me to create something that can be carried and continued on. Seeing this all come to life is really rewarding."

For this fall's make-a-thon, Coleman wanted to become more invested in the planning process for this event and stepped up to work alongside Principal KC McKenna '00, Computer Programming teacher Mr. Anthony Mortimer, and other members of the St. Ed's administration to do so. "I wanted to get more involved on a broader level to understand what goes into making an event successful. I'm definitely interested in leadership and organizational building and I was drawn to find a good balance between engineering and serving other people. This opportunity is a more human-oriented role and and has been a great chance for me to try out some of my other skills." Coleman has assisted in the initial planning phases for this event, recruited volunteers and helped coordinate other event planning necessities like photography, set up and catering to help the event run smoothly.

"I've loved working with Mr. McKenna, Mr. Mortimer and other administrators to brainstorm and come up with ideas for this event," says Coleman. "I've been able to work with so many outside professionals and business people through this too. I've also had more freedom and a larger responsibility to bear and succeed through this role and it's been really fun. I'm in-between pursuing business or political science for my career, so having the chance to see how different organizations function and what goes into planning an event has been very helpful knowledge." Coleman is looking forward to serving as more of a "floating" team member this weekend so he can observe what all the groups are doing and step in where he can be most helpful. "I'm really excited to see a lot of the same people I worked with last spring, but having more of an overview role, I'm looking forward to seeing what each team is able to accomplish and learning what the new St. Ed's student volunteers thought of their experience," says Coleman.

Coleman reflects on how this new leadership experience has helped him grow as an Edsman. "This experience has changed my perspective on why it's important to get an education. It really goes back to our Holy Cross roots; 'Don't cultivate the mind at the expense of the heart.' Nearing the completion of my high school education, I'm starting to see my value as a person and how that value can make a difference," says Coleman. "Amongst the stress of my senior year, my participation in CAMVETS Make-a-thons has shown me that there's a lot of value in my actions beyond how I perform in my academics. Through this experience, we're seeing relationships continuing to grow and products continuing to make a difference. It's been a nice confidence boost for me and seeing all the other student volunteers and the work they've contributed shows how each one of them is also becoming a leader too."

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