Lucie Howell- Unleashing Innovative Mindsets by Unlocking Knowledge and Empowering Students
Lucie Howell
Lucie Howell

The education sector has witnessed tremendous transformations under the leadership of many influential women. They have served the industry with dedication, ensuring its constant upliftment while giving all students the opportunities they need to excel in their endeavors. These leaders work towards the overall success of the students, as well as their colleagues and staff through learning experiences.

One woman who is taking every possible step to morph education and teaching-learning processes while delivering exceptional educational experiences to the students is Lucie Howell – the Chief Learning Officer and Director of Learning & Engagement at The Henry Ford. With decades of hands-on experience in the arena of education, Lucie ensures that all teachers and students have access to best-in-class learning resources on innovation, invention and entrepreneurship as told through the lens of the stories and lessons contained in The Henry Ford’s collection known as the Archive of American Innovation, which documents over 300 years of American history. She works with her team of experts to guarantee that students evolve into forever learners.

Beginning of the Journey

Lucie’s career in STEM and innovation education began as an undergraduate and graduate student of chemical engineering at Imperial College, London. She chose engineering because she loved the practice of taking a design brief and working with a team of experts to create a solution that meets a need. This practice relies on a blend of disciplinary knowledge and understanding, creativity, and innovation. Her admiration of engineering and science led her to become a science teacher after graduating as a Master of Chemical Engineering. Through teaching, Lucie was able to create opportunities for others to experience the same excitement and challenges that she had experienced.

Lucie spent five years teaching in classrooms in the UK before emigrating to the US in 2005 with her young family. When she was ready to return to work in 2008, she found a role in STEM educational outreach at the University of Michigan. In this role and throughout her subsequent career, she was able to share her approach to project-based learning.

As the Director of STEM Teaching and Learning at Quinnipiac University, she learned the importance of teacher professional development (PD). Teacher PD offered her a way to multiply her impact and reach more students than she would be able to reach in a single classroom.

That same PD focus has continued throughout her career. At Teach for America, Lucie had the privilege of working with cohorts of STEM teachers-in-training. She challenged them to interweave this approach into their teaching and learning practice fundamentals.

For the past five years, she has been serving as The Henry Ford’s Chief Learning Officer, where she has led a strategic innovation learning vision, developed digital learning assets, curriculum resources, invention education programs and competitions, and educator PD.

“All these resources and experiences, which you can find in our newly launched inHub virtual venue, are designed to support the idea that innovation exists in all disciplines and may activate in each,” she states. As an engineer by head and an educator by heart, Lucie knows that learning takes place in all parts of our lives, and her job as an educator is to connect the dots for students from life experiences.

Inspiration Behind the Journey

Lucie’s mother told her from a very young age that she should pursue a career as a teacher. However, her love of science and math led her to study engineering at college. By the time she finished her degree, she had tried to develop ways in which she could share that love with others. This is when she thought of her mother and grandmother and how they shared their passions with young people as teachers. “They inspired me to train to be a science teacher, and I am so glad they did,” said Lucie.

Embracing Interactive and Online Education

According to Lucie, The Henry Ford has only begun to scratch the surface on the ways interactive and online educational content are and will impact learning over time. As the organization was developing inHub, it envisioned a virtual venue where educators would gather for resources and content and have the chance to meet and interact with one another. The goal is to build an online professional learning community focused on reducing the innovation opportunity gap that exists in our educational systems. “That is the power of interactive and online educational spaces, as it allows like-minded people to come together, find new materials to inform their teaching, and meet others in such a way that they can share their best practices,” said Lucie.

Feathers in the Cap

Lucie has been recognized with many awards, recognitions, and acknowledgments throughout her illustrious journey in the education sector. Among some of her noteworthy accomplishments are the Crain’s Detroit – Notable Woman in Educational Leadership Awardee (2019) and Leadership Detroit – Class XLI Recipient and Member (2019 – 2020).

About The Henry Ford

Located in Dearborn, Michigan, The Henry Ford, a globally-recognized destination, fosters inspiration in a hands-on learning environment. Its unparalleled collection consisting of 26 million artifacts is the most comprehensive of its kind focusing on innovation, ingenuity, and resourcefulness in America. This national historic landmark’s unique venues include Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Greenfield Village, Ford Rouge Factory Tour, Benson Ford Research Center and Henry Ford Academy, a public charter high school. Together with its online presence at, its national television series The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation, its learning community inHub and its K-12 invention and entrepreneurship competitions through Invention Convention Worldwide, The Henry Ford’s purpose is to activate innovative mindsets and unlock individual potential to help shape a better future.

Perceiving Challenges as Opportunities

Lucie is of the opinion that the greatest challenge in education is the quietly brewing national teacher shortage. As an educator and a board member of a charter high school, Henry Ford Academy, this issue is one that keeps her up at night. She expresses that the entire educational community and society at large is as a result of COVID-19 and not recognizing the fact that this crisis had been brewing for years before the pandemic. She is also concerned that teaching is not only undervalued but has actually been devalued for decades, resulting in the reduction of enrolment into teacher preparation programs.

She believes that these vacancies are a direct result of teachers fleeing the profession without any pipeline in place for developing new educational talent. Without the strategy to grow and build a sustainable talent pipeline of educational professionals, it is unlikely that there will be an end to the teacher shortage crisis for at least a decade. “And even when the pipeline fills, remember that it can take years for a teacher to hone their skills in the classroom,” she further states.

Empowering through Education

Lucie believes in The Henry Ford’s learning principle, “Learning Shared Equitably by All”. Accordingly, she ensures that all the digital learning assets, stories, and curated curriculum resources are available to any educator, formal and informal, to be shared with their students no matter where they are in the world. “That is the power of The Henry Ford’s inHub. We work hard to ensure all educators that want to bring their students to our venues have that opportunity,” shares Lucie. Her team is purposeful in its approach to the growth of its learning outreach programs, such as Invention Convention Worldwide. As part of the supporting work with education partners, the organization is building an Innovation Atlas platform that would allow every member to identify districts and communities across the country where there may be a need to share the school’s innovation stories and educational programming directly.

A Step towards the Future

Speaking about the future plans of the institute, Lucie expresses, “The Henry Ford is working hard to ‘build back’ from the real impacts of the pandemic. We are excited to be planning an on-site and in-person Raytheon Technologies Invention Convention US Nationals 2022 for June with students from our affiliate programs that span the country”. The institute also plans to host its second annual Invention Convention Globals 2022 virtually in July and August. Lucie further states, “We are looking forward to hosting a growing number of educator professional development courses both online and at The Henry Ford itself, and the digital content development team is working hard on building our portfolio of innovation learning resources to add to the experiences that are already available through inHub”.

Final Words of Wisdom

While addressing the future educators and educational leaders, Lucie states that she believes teaching is a team sport. As one steps into the education field, they should build their team whether it is in the building where they work, in the organization or district that they become a part of, or within an online learning community like inHub. It is important that they have colleagues and professional friends that they can believe in. “As educators, each of us become leaders and learning experts within our own ecosystems, so having a support network that can inform your teaching and learning approaches with ‘best-practice’ models can be invaluable,” expresses Lucie. She believes that it is like any team sport- the rest of the team only makes you stronger and your impact greater.

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