Triple Helix students are proud to publish this Woodie Flowers Award nominating essay for our mentor Wendy Bretton.
Wendy Bretton first joined Triple Helix four years ago as a software mentor, but her impact on the team has been much larger than that. As a professional software engineer for over 20 years, Mrs. Bretton has an incredible amount of knowledge that she is willing to share with both students and mentors alike. She has created an atmosphere on the software subteam where everyone’s input is valuable. Because of this, it is rare to see Mrs. Bretton without at least one or two students by her side. She is constantly encouraging members to take on different tasks and learn more.
Mrs. Bretton has always been devoted to promoting STEM, even long before she joined Triple Helix. As a mother of two, when her kids were in elementary school she heard about FLL, and after finding out that no one at their school wanted to start a team, she started one herself. This FLL team has been to state championships countless times and is still going strong. Mrs. Bretton even has her own website that shares a variety of STEM topics, activities, and ideas. She is often contacted by new parents asking how to get their children involved in STEM. Her devotion and dedication to promoting STEM has had a tremendous effect on those around her.
Interestingly enough, when Mrs. Bretton first joined Triple Helix, she was not expecting to become the software lead, however, she quickly became an asset to the team by taking over the lead position when the previous software mentor left. Not only did she keep the software subteam afloat, but she implemented a structured, well-documented framework that allows students to begin contributing from day one by following procedures shared in Google Keep notes. Mrs. Bretton focuses on ensuring that every student has an equal opportunity to participate. Carson, one of the youngest members on the team says, “Mrs. Bretton makes sure everyone has a task regardless of their experience level.”
Mrs. Bretton strives to ensure that all students are able to express their creativity. She encourages teamwork throughout the subteam, and because of this, students are often found working together on the code. Long after a meeting ends, Mrs. Bretton will be looking over all of the altered code and integrating it into a stable baseline so that testing can start at the next meeting. This system guarantees that all the students can actively participate in writing the code. She even managed to implement this practice with last year’s robot – the most complicated robot the team has made.
In conclusion, Mrs. Bretton is more than just the team’s software mentor. She not only works alongside the students, but also provides life advice, support, and even rides to meetings. Liz, one of the team’s alumni, states, “Her positive energy truly bleeds out into everything that she does.” To sum it up, Mrs. Bretton’s passion for promoting STEM has created many lifelong learners, gracious professionals, and thoughtful citizens who continue to be active in the STEM community.