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2018 Friday Medal Honors Dr. Shelley Goldman


Raleigh, NC — Three words–inspire, innovate and educate–can be found on the walls of the Friday Institute building and serve as a reminder of the enduring themes in its work. This year’s Friday Medal recipient, Dr. Shelley Goldman, embodies these themes. Dr. Goldman has made a lifelong commitment to innovation in education, spending decades inspiring educators and organizations to take risks, solve complex problems and collaborate to build an equitable education system.

“We’re thrilled that Dr. Shelley Goldman is the 2018 recipient of the Friday Medal,” said Dr. Hiller A. Spires, Interim Director of the Friday Institute. “She has devoted her life to educational innovation, and particularly she has done exceptional work in the area of design thinking.”

Dr. Goldman is the Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. She is also by courtesy a professor in the Mechanical Engineering-Design Program. Dr. Goldman is currently working on broadening participation in STEM learning via teaching and researching design thinking, new technologies and innovative curriculum design. She has served on the Friday Institute’s National Advisory Board for the last 11 years.

Dr. Shelley Goldman received the Friday Medal during the October 29 ceremony at the Friday Institute. From L to R: Dr. Shelley Goldman, Dr. Hiller A. Spires.

Dr. Goldman was the 13th Friday Medal recipient. This year’s ceremony was held on Monday, October 29, 2018, at the Friday Institute on NC State’s Centennial Campus.

The Friday Medal ceremony is the Friday Institute’s signature event that honors the legacy of Bill and Ida Friday. The Fridays were long-time contributors to education for more than 50 years. Mr. Friday was president of the UNC system for 30 years, leading the creation of the 16-campus system and increasing enrollment almost tenfold. The Friday Medal award is given annually and recognizes those who have had significant, distinguished and enduring contributions to education and beyond.

Several people honored Dr. Goldman by speaking of her contributions to education during the ceremony, including fellow Friday Institute National Advisory Board Member Dr. Chris Dede, who is the Timothy E. Wirth Professor in the Learning Technologies, Technology, Innovation and Education Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Past Friday Medal recipients attended the ceremony, including Muriel Summers, whose students presented their work during the event. From L to R: Dr. Robert Taylor, Dr. Ken Branch, Dr. Bill McNeal, Muriel Summers and Dr. Shelley Goldman.

“She has made world-class contributions over decades along notable dimensions–in mathematics, in our understanding of youth and digital media, and in the development of strategies in design, particularly design in education,” said Dr. Dede. “She has applied all of those dimensions in and out of school, looking at learning life wide.”

Dr. Goldman has not only had an impact on the education system but also on the students she has taught. NC State College of Education assistant professors Dr. Tamecia Jones and Dr. K.C. Busch both mentioned their experiences learning from Dr. Goldman as graduate students. Dr. Busch said she learned about herself with Dr. Goldman’s curriculum and has brought it with her to the classes she teaches at NC State. Dr. Jones was inspired by Dr. Goldman to take intellectual risks.

“It’s very important in higher education to have somebody who encourages you to take a risk on whatever it is you’re thinking,” said Dr. Jones. “It makes you confident sitting outside of the box. Every time I would throw out a crazy idea, she would say ‘try it’ and it’s like giving you keys. I want to thank [Dr. Goldman] for giving me keys to go forward.”

A.B. Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary School student Riley Marks presents her team’s inclusive playground lego build during the ceremony.

In honor of Dr. Goldman’s work in design thinking, students Laniey Beamish and Riley Marks from A.B. Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary School presented their inclusive playground lego build during the ceremony, showcasing the skills they learned in their design thinking class.

Finally, Dr. Goldman spoke about her journey to education, beginning in 1974 at Glenwood Elementary School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

“I realized there that kids could work collaboratively; they could benefit from relevant and personal approaches, and that doing project work and getting outside of the classroom reaped magnificent awards,” said Dr. Goldman. “Working on education innovation has been a career-long, lifelong thing for me. I’ve been trying through innovation with technology for over three decades, and I still totally appreciate the power and leverage technologies can have for learning. I’m still trying now through innovative education in the form of design thinking.”

Dr. Goldman focused the rest of her presentation during the ceremony on design thinking, describing it as a human-centered approach to solving complex problems. These problems may have more than one solution.  

“Design thinking is a vehicle for curricular construction, and it has applications across the school spectrum and subjects,”said Dr. Goldman. “It’s responsive to the real-world inside and outside of the school. It prepares students with skills and mindsets to respond to needs, challenges and unanticipated problems. It puts doing at the center of problem solving. It engages in ways that are inclusive of learners’ diversity.”

Examples of design thinking include designing for water conservation problems, empowering students to teach science through videos and building teacher capacity through the utilization of their own innovative strengths.

The Friday Institute’s approach to its work is much like the design thinking process. It aims to solve complex systemic problems in education by creating innovative solutions and leveraging collaborations across multiple fields. The Friday Institute is grateful for Dr. Goldman’s dedication to its mission and presented her with the Friday Medal to honor her service both to the organization and the field of education.

Click here to view photos from the event.