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Whilst I was at school, Stephen was an incredibly inspiring and enthusiastic influence on my perception of ambition and possibility. His motivational talks at the start of each of my senior years gave me a strong reality check and encouraged me to see things from outside of the box. As a previous Deputy Head Boy, I am very aware that the whole school feels the same way, and eagerly looked forward to Stephen’s workshops.

As I worked with him more, I realised that his personality and drive were a refreshing and invigorating change from the normal, that encouraged me to work to my full potential, think differently, and make things happen.
His encouragement to pursue my ambition of creating a community Media & Training facility was the only encouragement I did received amongst countless educators, and his generous contributions of both substantial amounts of his own time, and sponsorship, can be solely attributed to the projects’ success. The Media House was opened in front of Scottish Education and Government seniors, and nation-wide media, with special guest and Prime Minister, Gordon Brown personally thanking him for his support.

I personally owe an overwhelming amount of my own success to Stephen’s guidance – which I have received over the past six years, both through year-group talks and workshops, and personal meetings. He has connected me well, taught me about business and most importantly given me the mindset and confidence to create, learn and collaborate.

Now several years into the real-world, I can say that the lessons I learned from Stephen through his time at Inverkeithing High School, make up a large proportion of those that I have been able to apply to every day life, out-with the classroom.

Lewis Phillips

Founder of the IHS Media Network
Director of Campfire

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I have had the pleasure and benefits of appointing Stephen Reid to deliver digital, creative workshops on a number of occassions over the past 5 years

While I was the Arts Education Officer for East Lothian Council (2007 – 2012) I contracted Stephen to deliver the Summer Animation School as part of a wider Summer Arts programme aimed at children and young people living across East Lothian.
The evaluations recieved at the end of the first Animation school were 100% positive and I immediately booked Stephen to deliver for the following 2 summers.
I have observed Stephen regularly in delivery and he has an infectious enthusiasm and energy and makes timely changes to the focus of the session in order to keep the participants fully engaged and productive.
Even when dealing with participant groups as large as 20, Stephen has the ability to individualise the learning and provide each participant with themes, suggestions and inspiration that will appeal to them as individuals and keep them ‘on task’ for successful outputs.

Currently I am Artistic Director of the ‘Mad Hatter, Grey Matter Festival’ located on the stunning, historc Cambo Estate, Fife.
This is a family festival that exists to encourage creativuty and curiousity in all ages. I did not hestitate to approach Stephen to ask if he could devise some Minecraft festival sessions that would incorporate the heritage setting – the Minecraft sessions were located in the 18th century Cambo Stables – and again Stephen delivered the goods brilliantly.
Feedback from the festival attendees was great – the combination of 21st century technology and historic estate was particularly exciting and inspiring.
Many of the feedback comments pointed out the impact these sessions had on the children from a variety of viewpoints from social interaction to team work and more.
I am hugely excited to have been able to programme Stephen’s Minecraft sessions at Cambo for the Mad Hatter, Grey Matter 2015 Festival again this summer.

I can highly recommend Stephen as a wonderful trainer of and for all ages.”

Ruthanne Baxter

Artistic Director, Cambo Estate

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I worked with Stephen Reid during ‘March of The Robots’, a Playful Anywhere CIC project, from September 13th to October 3rd 2014

A Leeds Light Night commission supported by Art Council England, the ‘Leeds Robot Lab’, a shipping container equipped with a series of laptops and a 3D printer alongside a selection of making materials, visited 10 communities around Leeds with the aim to engage children through Minecraft and invite them to an end event in the City Centre. Activities were delivered via a combination of drop-in sessions and formalised workshops with community groups, schools and youth clubs. Activities were centred around communities creating robots in various forms from craft to code, with Minecraft and 3D printing being core, whilst bringing ideas and thoughts to bear on a robot that emerged from the travels around Leeds. We engaged over 500 children throughout the project within communities ending with in excess of 1000 participants at the end event itself.

Stephen devised and developed key concepts for this project as well as leading on delivery and managing a team of volunteers and assistant artists. As an associate artist/facilitator, I was honoured to have worked alongside Stephen on this unique project. His professionalism and ability to engage with children, parents and teachers a like was second to none. With an infectious enthusiasm, Stephen’s approach and application of educational themes in a community context, in many cases successfully engaging children from somewhat deprived areas, was inspirational.

I do not hesitate to recommend Stephen and his exceptional work with Minecraft in Education and have in fact, since working together, put his name forward for projects including work with the National Trust.

Gemma Latham

Digital Artist in Residence – Leeds Light Night and March of the Robots (2014)

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“In both my capacity as a teacher and as a deputy head teacher, I have been responsible for organising the bulk of extra curricular pupil workshops and also teacher CPD at Banchory Academy for many years. I was extremely fortunate to have met Stephen twelve years ago as a provider of pupil motivation workshops, within which he truly inspired an entire year of our seniors to work hard and achieve more in the short time he had with them. As a result, I have bought Stephen’s services in to the school every year since, running workshops for my senior pupils in aspirational thinking, study skills, exam success and skills for work and life beyond the school.
As the years went by and as both our needs and Stephen’s business adapted, he introduced new courses for both pupils and teachers. I was able to expand his input and influence in the school and over the last twelve years, his contribution to the schools yearly record of success is no doubt due in part to his frequent work with our kids. Stephen has an innate desire to help others to learn and achieve and is uniquely capable of reaching leaners of all kinds and of any age, leaving them feeling confident, competent and inspired.
Latterly, alongside his work with our pupils, Stephen delivered ‘Technology in Education’ CPD to our teaching staff, leaving us with a portfolio of innovative technologies for use as teaching tools, including podcasting, animation and games-based learning. In line with our national curriculum and government drive to promote technology as learning tool, I can easily say that Stephen’s work made meeting the benchmarks of those initiatives much easier and a joy to take part in. Our teachers will benefit from his input for many years to come.

I would not hesitate to recommend Stephen to your school or organisation. In fact, I would urge you to invite him to work with both your pupils and your staff.

Graham McDonald

Deputy Head Teacher, Banchory Academy, Aberdeen.

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Dear Mr. Reid,

Please accept this sincere and heartfelt “thank you” from all the teachers and students at Mercer County Senior High School who had the privilege to meet and work with you during your visit in October 2014. Our students continue to reference stories and discussions from your time with us, and teachers are utilizing the technology that you introduced. Your presence in our classrooms was a much-needed hiatus between winter and spring breaks for both teachers and students.

I want to personally thank you for the time and effort you invested in preparing for your visit to Kentucky. The materials you created to accommodate our curriculum impressed the teachers and administration before the decision was made to hire you; I know for certain the documents you provided concerning the subjects you would cover influenced the administration’s decision to bring you into our school. In addition to the tailored materials, the Skype sessions held with teachers before spending time in MCSH proved to be beneficial. The time spent during the Skype sessions encouraged them to supplement their lesson plans with resources you provided; some of the teachers started implementing them soon after your discussions.

Your first day in the school brought a challenge. Because of unforeseeable circumstances – snow days and, therefore, rescheduled test dates – the computer labs were occupied and most of the week. Honestly, I was concerned when I looked at the updated lab schedule because I saw no way for you to present your work and ideas to our staff and students other than through lecture. However, you were flexible and able to find ways to make use of the available technology in order to demonstrate your Minecraft curriculum, which many of our students thoroughly enjoyed. With some juggling on your part, in an unfamiliar school, with the pressure of standardized testing looming, you executed your plan to introduce technology and Minecraft as effective tools for teaching literacy with ease and a sense of familiarity. Again, the teachers and administration were pleased with you and your work. 

Your time at MCSH was spent in many classrooms across the curriculum: Spanish, Technology, English, History, and Special Education. These teachers have shared with me their excitement; not only did you teach something new in terms of pedagogy during the after-school Professional Development session and your time in the classrooms, your energy provided motivation for our teachers as well as our students. I remember one of my students, who saw you speak and work in another class of his, commented on your intelligence: “You’re a genius? How do you know so much?” Your response to him spoke volumes for your philosophy on education and connecting with people. You told him you weren’t a genius; you simply pay attention, listen, and take responsibility to learn about cultures and people and anything in which you’re interested. That conversation made an impression on so many of my students. Days after you left, I heard a few of them talking about paying attention to what’s around them: “Maybe it’s worth it.” I believe that conversation alone helped a few students believe they can be more and experience more than they thought previously – which, in our culture, is a major accomplishment. So many of our students don’t know they can not only dream but accomplish those dreams. Thank you for showing them they can.

And, finally, I want to thank you for the relationship you’ve established with my Cultural Studies class. You held Skype sessions with them as part of your consultation, but you continued to Skype with them after you fulfilled your number of paid sessions. Not only did they look forward to our class sessions, they continued the conversations and looked forward to speaking with you on a semi-weekly basis. They appreciated your time and still ask about you. Their experience with you – connecting with someone from another culture, utilizing technology to maintain a relationship, exploring real-world concepts such as feminism and tolerance – is one that was never before available to students at Mercer. Undoubtedly, this class in particular will remember their time spent with you well into their futures.

 I cannot thank you enough for visiting Mercer County Senior High School. From my perspective, you accomplished your concrete goals; you provided professional development for teachers, and you introduced resources to incorporate technology and literacy. The full impact of your visit goes beyond your accomplishments, however. You provided ways for teachers to incorporate fresh teaching tools in a time when we have to “teach to the test” and therefore feel restricted in our own classrooms. Simply by showing up, you demonstrated to our students anything can happen if the work is done and done well. Perhaps most importantly, you were a glimpse of the world for students who are culturally conditioned to be loyal to and love their home place – to stay and never explore. You provided hope and excitement at an age when they so desperately need to know they really can do anything they work hard enough to accomplish. Thank you for sharing your life and your experiences with them – with us. We became better educators, and we all became better students, because of your time spent at Mercer County Senior High.

Katie Yandrick

Mercer Senior High School – Kentucky (2015)

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“As a trainee teacher in my first year in Primary teaching, I asked Stephen if he could help me to introduce a the topic of ‘Water’ with my pupils in a new and engaging way. I had met Stephen during a teacher CPD event he ran in another school and had gained so much from his workshops. Having inspired all of the teachers present to use a wide range of technologies long after the workshop had finished, I knew he could help me make this unit of work something special. My pupils would be exploring water in it’s many forms such as rain, rivers and ocean and in particular, how mankind uses water to drink, keep clean, for leisure and even as a source of power. Stephen returned to me a few days later with an idea for using Minecraft in the classroom. Something I knew my pupils would love.

While this session was unpaid, Stephen still took great time and effort to build a map specifically for the purposes of getting the best from the unit of work, using our curriculum guidelines as a scaffold. He then visited the school and ran the class alongside me, taking kids into the Minecraft world and patiently explaining the concepts of water found within the game in relation to the real thing. The kids loved it, were attentive and talked confidently about water throughout his sessions. Stephen had created a mountain, with tributaries which led to rivers and to a lake, which was then damned and had a hydro electric power station built in. The kids were able to explore the system of how water comes from rain and is collected though geographical forces and can be manipulated by man for the purposes of power. It was both inspiring and hugely educational and all set at a level my pupils could understand. 

Stephen then got the kids to create an aqueduct, showing the flow and gravitational pull of water both in game and real life. This involved lots of planning for the kids and in particular mathematics, as the aqueduct worked in sets of eight blocks. Finally, Stephen took the kids through a design challenge using graph paper first, then Minecraft. The kids were to design a water feature for a grand garden. They first had to create a plan, elevation and side elevation of their fountain, a concept taught in secondary school. They all picked this up well. Then they moved to Minecraft and populated a pre-made garden with elaborate fountains. They loved it. Finally, at the end of the day, Stephen helped my pupils present their work to the rest of the class.

Later in the year I invited Stephen back to run a similar session, this time on Ancient Egypt. As with the first, Stephen prepared a Minecraft map and challenged the children to make a pyramid, then a tomb and then traps to protect the buried pharaohs inside. Stephen then took the challenge of ‘raiding’ the tombs and of course, fell into every kind of clever trap. The kids used falling sand, lava and even Redstone to trap him and loved seeing him fall foul to their contraptions. As a parent with kids who play Minecraft, I was able to follow the tasks and building requirements but Stephen’s understanding of the game and how a child might use to to learn more effectively from subject to subject is second to none.

It is worth noting that, while Stephen created the Minecraft element of the game, he also made it only one part of a much wider, cross curricular approach. Throughout the day the pupils researched Egyptian gods in books, designed Egyptian icons for their own hieroglyphs, made tombs from building blocks and wrote a page from the journal of a 1920’s explorer of the Pyramids.

Stephen’s work made both sessions of work two of the most memorable and effective of my year, with children asking for another visit from the ‘Minecraft Man’ long after both events. I would recommend any teacher to take the leap and work with Stephen in using Minecraft in their classroom. His work has left a lasting legacy of interest and excitement in learning with my kids. I would also urge education management to employ Stephen in the training of all trainee, newly qualified and established teachers. My own teaching practice has been greatly enhanced both in terms of my confidence and practical application of technology.

Maria Thomson

Capshard Primary School, Fife, Scotland

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