CL58: Supporting Authentic Work

When students engage in authentic work, they aren’t the only one’s crossing into the unknown.

What support do teachers need to find their way?

Season 8/Collab Lab 58

The focus for Collab Lab 57 was Dealing with Uncertainty. Whenever we cross into the unknown, it’s helpful to find a guide or mentor who can point to a path forward. Beyond simply brining in outside programming, what support can we offer teachers as they take on the challenges that might arise?

As always, you’ll be joined by peers and collaborators from K-12 higher education, industry, and the nonprofit community. If you work with or know of a student who would like to join the discussion, please extend the invitation.


5:30 to 6:00 pm Grab something to eat, meet some interesting, passionate people
6:00 to 6:15 pm Welcome and introductions
6:15 to 8:00 pm Let’s talk through some ideas
8:00 to 8:30 pm Wrap up and next steps

Food and non-alcoholic beverages will be provided. There is no charge for participation but space is limited!

Featured Participants

Among others, you’ll have chance to trade ideas with:

Kirsten Sobieski, Partner — Services Manager, GPS Education Partners
Kirsten credits her work-based learning experience as a college intern in the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office as what led her to a career of advocacy for youth, families, and veterans in crisis. Having worked in the government sector for 20 years before pivoting to non-profit leadership, Kirsten values the impact of partnerships, recognizing that no one entity can do it all alone. A veteran of the United States Army Reserve Military Intelligence Corps, Kirsten received technical training that translated into college credit towards her degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Kirsten holds a BA in History and a Certificate in Criminal Justice.

GPS Education Partners works with schools and business to develop and implement work-based learning experiences for students.

Chris Willey — Director of Technology, Islands of Brilliance

Chris  is a trailblazer in teaching and learning, focusing on emerging creative technologies. Drawing inspiration from the metaphor of gardening, Willey has cultivated a deep teaching philosophy that centers around fostering growth, nurturing creativity, and valuing the process. As an Adobe Education Leader/Innovator, Willey collaborates with a distinguished community of creative educators on a global s

cale. With a teaching tenure spanning over a decade at the college level, his expertise spans digital art, digital painting, animation, audio/video production, 3D modeling, and game engines.

He founded the Immersive Media Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, an interdisciplinary research space focusing on emerging creative technologies such as extended reality and generative AI. Willey has written textbooks on art and design, curated art exhibitions at museums, and exhibited internationally.

Islands of Brilliance (IOB) is a learning experience developed specifically for children and young adults on the autism spectrum. IOB utilizes project-based learning that allows students to grow their intrinsic capabilities and practice communication, increasing their likelihood of independence as adults.

Maylan Thomas — Director of Production Design, GMR Marketing

Photo of Maylan Thomas with Superbowl stadium in background

Maylan Thomas is a highly accomplished professional with a background in Scenic & Lighting Design. He obtained his MFA in 2012 and his BA from the University of Iowa in 2007. With a versatile skill set encompassing design, fabrication, technical expertise, and production, Maylan has an extensive portfolio that spans various domains, including live events, touring concerts, experiential marketing, museum fabrication, retail fabrication, mobile tour design, and theatre.

Currently serving as the Director of Production Design at GMR Marketing, Maylan is involved in a variety of exciting projects. Notable among th

em are his contributions to the 2023 & 2024 Super Bowl campus design, where he played a key role in producing the entryways for the campus while managing multiple tactics across multiple spaces. He has produced spaces for clients at both the WNBA and NBA All Star Game.

His design credits also extend to several Fortune 100 brands to include: brand houses, retail buildouts, pop-up installations, and mobile tours, with projects spanning from 2020 to 2023. Including managing multiple retail locations across the East Coast, assets, collateral and inventory.

Prior to his current role, Maylan made significant contributions to a range of projects, including the annual marketing productions for Milwaukee Tool in 2018, 2019, and 2020, multiple AV integrations for Royal Caribbean in 2019 and 2020, and the technical design direction for the WWII Museum’s exhibit “Arsenal of Democracy” in 2017, as well as the technical design direction for both campus and stage setups at the Essence Festival in the same year. His technical design expertise has also played a pivotal role in the success of several world tours from 2013 to 2015, featuring renowned artists such as Katy Perry, Cirque Varekai, the Rolling Stones’ 50th Anniversary tour (stadium and arena), and Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Tour just to name a few.

Before embarking on his academic journey at the University of Iowa, Maylan served his country in the US Army from 1999 to 2007. During his time in the military, he held the roles of a Tank Commander and Resident Scenic Designer and Technical Director for the US Army Soldier Show, showcasing his multifaceted talents and commitment to excellence.

2023-24 Collab Labs

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