I envy people who are good at working with their hands. As much as I love computers, I never got into putting them together or taking them apart the way a lot of hobbyists do. Writing code was one thing—I had fun doing that—but soldering circuit boards was something else.

I also wondered how Camille reaches every kid at a school with more than 400 students. She approaches her job a bit like a librarian or gym teacher, but with a twist. She sees each class about 15 times a year, and from those classes, she and her colleagues identify promising students who would benefit from spending extra enrichment time with her. And from that group, they choose a few students for even more focused attention. This model is unusual enough that even some of the educators on the Teacher of the Year selection committee hadn’t heard of it.

“I’m looking for kids who would benefit from being pushed a little harder,” she told me. “I see kids who are struggling buy into the idea that they should try things that are hard. And kids who are succeeding become better advocates for challenging work. When you do something difficult and new, your brain grows. It changes your attitude and your perspective on the rest of your education.”

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