Elaine Menardi, Colorado Policy Fellow

State and City of Residence:

Denver, CO

Job Description:

Education Program Coordinator, Wings Over The Rockies Air & Space Museum

Why do you work in education? 

I was a kid once. I know what it is to be curious... filled with a sense of wonder and a desire for discovery. I live by the prime directive: To reach the child who hungers for purpose in #PivotTheModel design school learning.

Tell us about something that you have done in education that you feel has made or will make a big difference for your community? 

Together with Policy Fellow, Jess Buller, we proposed HB 17-1201, a STEM High School Diploma Endorsement which was signed into a law in Colorado. This is a great opportunity for students to showcase their hard work and be rewarded for academic excellence. The endorsement will add a mark of distinction for high-achieving students and show employers and colleges they will be successful in their future endeavors.

What’s your favorite part about being an Educator Voice Fellow?

I have enjoyed being a firsthand participant in the policy-making process. Before becoming a fellow, I had no idea how accessible the political system and legislators were. Having initiated a policy project that is going to the Governor's desk to be signed into law is hugely gratifying and exciting.

If you could change just one thing about our current education system, what would it be?

I hope for the day when educators at all levels will focus more intentionally on giving students the awesome secret sauce:

Autonomy + Mastery + Purpose = Drive

If we can inspire students with the passionate drive to excel, we will have done our jobs well.

If a song played every time you walked into a room, what would that song be?

"In my dream, the angel shrugged & said /

if we fail this time /

it will be a failure of imagination /

& then she placed the world gently in the palm of my hand."

Brian Andreas

What’s the best thing a student ever said to you?

Oh! I get it now!

What’s your dream vacation?

A month on the International Space Station or at McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

"Failure is not an option." Gene Kranz, Mission Control to Apollo 13 on April 13, 1970.

What is one book every educator must read?

Creative Confidence by David and Tom Kelley AND The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Prior to becoming the Education Program Coordinator at Wings Over The Rockies Air & Space Museum, Elaine Menardi cultivated her math skills with 7th and 8th grade students at Yuma Middle School. She believes in the power of a growth-mindset and knows that the best learning happens when teachers and students see themselves as partners who explore questions and discover new ideas together. Curiosity and perseverance fuel her drive toward all things STEM where she frequently showcases the work of students via online media and video. After graduating from Colorado School of Mines, Elaine began her career as an electrical engineer. Working in Research and Development for the (then) Adolph Coors Company, she is listed among the team of patented inventors for a proprietary machine vision can identification system. Elaine is deeply invested in teaching design thinking to students and educators to strengthen their creative confidence and imagination to ensure a successful future for 21st century learners.