Eric Gervais is a technology cheerleader for his students. As an Instructional Technology Specialist at the Raymond E. Shaw Elementary School, a grade 3-6 school in Millbury, Gervais works with all of the students. He introduces them to technology, but his real focus is problem solving.
“In the last year or two, we’ve been moving away from straight technology and moving more towards STEAM and engineering concepts,” Gervais says. “It’s teaching students that any problem is solvable.”
Gervais may be teaching these concepts a little too well. A group of his students recently figured out how to circumvent the school’s firewall.
“The students are utilizing proxy servers and Google certificates. They’re doing high-level security sleuthing,” says Gervais. “They are very good problem solvers, which will help them to be successful in life.”
Gervais brings his outgoing personality and down-to-earth approach to lessons on everything from designing and 3-D printing a truss bridge to lessons on the stock market.
“The stock market challenge teaches the students that there’s more to math. It’s a great way to get them to look at charts differently,” says Gervais.
His innovative approach to teaching led him to pioneer the use of 3D printing projects and integrate green screen technology into the curriculum, creating immersive and interactive learning experiences. These early ventures showcased his dedication to staying at the forefront of educational technology, always seeking new ways to engage and inspire his students.
After learning from his wife (who works at Assabet Valley Collaborative) that automatic feeding syringes at her school were not working, Gervais challenged his students to come up with a solution. His fifth graders designed and created a syringe using the 3-D printer.
“I took off my teacher hat and sat and talked with them about the problem,” Gervais says. “They like to solve real problems and I like to show them that they can do it.”
In fact, the word “can’t” is not allowed in his classroom. His technique for students who want to quit is to walk over to the student, ask a few questions, then walk away.
“When I come back, they are working on the problem,” says Gervais. “I love to see students persevere.”
Gervais says it’s a myth that all students love technology, so he tries to show an interest in any subject a student is passionate about. He says he also encourages students to step away from technology when they are not in school. He hopes to adapt his role next year to move even further into hands-on STEAM lessons.
“When it comes to getting the kids off the devices at some point during the day, it’s going to be in my room, which is ironic because I was the one who was getting them on the devices 20 years ago,” Gervais says.
In addition to his role as an elementary educator, Gervais has worked for more than a decade as an adjunct professor at Quinsigamond Community College. Like with the younger kids, he focuses on teaching the students how to find the best resources to come up with an answer. He treats them like adults and encourages them to reach their potential.
“Sometimes people just need a life coach,” says Gervais. “Sometimes they just need to know someone’s got their back.”
His advice to students who want to go into education (including one of his own children, who often works as a substitute in his school): embrace change.
“Education is always going to evolve,” Gervais says. “If you’re a teacher who can enjoy the evolution, then you can enjoy teaching.”
It’s a philosophy that has helped him navigate all the changes in educational technology over the years. He says it’s important to remember that students are facing enormous change as well.
“We’ve leapfrogged in the last 20 years to a point where it’s crazy, but we’re expecting the students to know the same or more,” Gervais says. “I’m trying to train them for survival skills in a technological future. I want to be the fuel for their rocket.”
Eric Gervais, a resident of Worcester, Massachusetts for most of his life, is a passionate individual driven by a deep love for innovation, technology, problem-solving, and continuous learning. Throughout his journey, he has dedicated himself to expanding his knowledge and making a positive impact in the world, always striving to enhance his skills for the benefit of his students. He holds a degree in Education from Michigan State University, where he specialized in Technology Education and Special Education. After graduation, he worked for ten years at EMC Corporation, before leaving to pursue a career in education. He is a Google Certified Educator, a Project Lead the Way instructor and consistently seeks professional development opportunities, attending workshops and conferences to stay updated on the latest educational practices and technologies. He is happily married to his high school sweetheart, Jessica Gervais, with whom he has three children.Print this post