Alumni Profile: Katie Gingerich

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Katie GingerichIf you were to imagine your sixth grade classroom right now surely a number of things would come to mind. You might recall learning about ratios for the first time. One thing you probably don’t remember learning about in your elementary school days is peace. Katie Gingerich is here to change that.

From 2014-2015, Katie was coordinator of Peace Camp, a week long summer program run out of Grebel for kids to learn about peace and how it takes shape in their everyday lives. As a promotional tool Katie began making visits to schools in the Waterloo area to help market Peace Camp.

“I started thinking about the successes of Peace Camp, and asked what are the things that could make this a year-round program?  How can we make this program more sustainable?”

It was from this thinking that The Ripple Effect Education (TREE) was born in September of 2015. While TREE was still in the early stages Katie worked as the Academic and Administrative Assistant to the Dean and Theological Studies Graduate Program at Grebel. It was in February of 2016 that a co-worked approached Katie.

“He said ‘Drop everything, there is a potential for a grant for you’.”

TREE received the grant from the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation that they applied for, and the development of curriculum begun to allow more students and classrooms to be involved in the program. Fast forward to September 2016 and TREE is currently working in 10 grade 6 classes in the Waterloo region. TREE focuses on peace education and works as a part of the Ontario Social Studies curriculum, focusing on heritage, communities, and identity.

“Kids are really engaged. Students are enthusiastic, and sometimes get riled up because they care. Life isn’t always sitting quietly in a classroom, life is dynamic and so the ways we learn about conflict is also dynamic.”

But TREE isn’t stopping here. Expanding to more grades and more students is on the horizon, as well as more custom workshops.

“It’s a big dream, my goal is to develop a plan to build the program not only upwards but outwards. Not just being known as a workshop series, but also a resources that teachers can use. They will know that TREE can offer specialized programming for their class.”

 Knowing Katie and her tireless passion, that dream doesn’t seem too far off at all. As a social entrepreneur Katie offered some words of wisdom to current students who are interested in beginning their own projects,

“If there is something you are passionate about and you have an idea, there are lots of resources on campus to help you work through the scary parts. There are people on campus who are interested in social entrepreneurship, and those relationships help you shape the work you do. Innovation is not just something we talk about in engineering, or in science. It can also be something we do for peace."

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