Book Excerpt: The Power of Empathy Driven Instruction

By Senior Collaborator Mary Cantwell




This workshop focuses on infusing design thinking into a school’s instructional program starting with terminology, frameworks & mindsets. Participants will complete a full design thinking process with empathy interviews, fast-paced ideation
& low-res prototyping.
Let our designers customize a workshop to meet your school’s unique needs. Together, we’ll forge your design thinking (human-centered design) capacity while we bravely build-to-learn, “failing forward” and problem-solving together.
Using the tools learned in the session, participants will examine, iterate, and reimagine their own classrooms / learning spaces to design a more intentional, positive environment that will have a lasting impact on students and learning.


Mary Cantwell accelerated our growth as a school through her support of design thinking with our staff and our students. Mary has the rare ability to simplify complex concepts and methodologies so that everyone -from preschoolers to adults- has an entry point to be successful.

Steve Saunders, Principal, Albemarle County Public School (VA)

Ellen’s work is always well-received by teachers and principal practitioners alike. Her unique approach to human-centered design provides the nascent-to-expert creators and innovators with practical tools to bring unearthed ideas to light. Ellen speaks in a universal language that all teachers hear.

Dr. Kaleb Rashad, High Tech High (HTH) Director of Creative Leadership

Investing in a consultant is one of the most important decisions a school leader can make. Kevin’s dedication, passion, and vast experience has helped transform my district into a Design Thinking leader, and made me a better leader in my school community. 

Glenn Robbins, Superintendent, Tabernacle School District, Tabernacle, NJ

Working with Mary helped our team reimagine ways to connect to and understand our end-users more deeply. Through undergoing intensive design thinking training, we were able to strengthen our needfinding and empathy driven work around parenting and nutrition.  Mary made a lasting impact in our efforts to help raise healthier families.

Lisa Y. Sharp, Manager, Wellness Marketing, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (GA)

Ellen is at the top of the class in leading workshops that equally inspire and engage her audiences. Participants walk away with activities, strategies, and skills that can be used in their work immediately - regardless of their role. 

Dr. Eric Chagala, Founding Principal Vista Innovation Academy (VIDA), CA & Co-Founder #DesignCamp for Education

Teachers walked away with a solid understanding, strategies, and ideas on how to facilitate Design Thinking among their students. Design Thinking is also about the mindsets and Kevin is certainly helping us reach our transformational leadership goals. We're looking forward to working with him again!

Adam Lindstrom, Supervisor of Instructional Technology, Marlboro Township Public Schools, NJ


Designing Change

Beyond our professional development, Educational Collaborators can build a team of experts to help you use Design Thinking to advance projects at your school through longer-term consulting engagements. Tackle opportunities such as reimagining learning spaces, transforming schedules, and deepening culture of equity and inclusion in your community organization. Design Thinking helps you develop powerful solutions to even the most difficult challenges!


We help schools nurture innovation mindsets and build capacity to creatively solve problems through Design Thinking.


A fast-paced hour of conversation, reflection & sharing about design thinking with experienced design practitioners & veteran educators. Explore practical, actionable strategies showing how design thinking can transform a classroom or school.
Dive deeper into mindsets by focusing on the behaviors and attitudes of a design thinker. Develop DT mindsets through exercises, provocations, and reflections. How can DT mindsets positively impact the learning outcomes of your students?
Discuss & explore how 3 established, successful & innovative schools embraced design thinking, identifying common features, approaches & scalability of their solutions. Develop a 30,000 feet view of goals, actions & what-ifs to infuse DT.
Let our designers customize a webinar to meet your school’s unique needs. The result will be a fast-paced, fun & interactive experience (not just “talking heads”) that will maximize learning outcomes with minimal time investment.
This webinar is comprised of Webinar One, Webinar Two, Webinar Three

(Mary Cantwell)

Learner. Design Thinker. Educator

Seeks connections cracks, & collaborations.
Favorite DT Mindset: Prototype to Learn

(Ellen Deutscher)

Educator. Design Thinker. Empathy Warrior

Creating impact through human connection and understanding.
Favorite DT Mindset(s): (be) Human-Centered and Mindful of Process

(Kevin Jarrett)

Facilitator. Connector. Educator.

Working every day to help move creative ideas forward.
Favorite DT Mindset: Mindful of Process