Last week, an outstanding group of Discovery Educators from across the country came together at the main headquarters of Discovery Communications in Silver Spring, Maryland, for the inaugural Leadership Conference hosted by the Discovery Educator Network. Bette Nelson and Joe Brennan represented Illinois at the conference, and I have asked each to share some observations about the event. Here are some thoughts that Joe shared with me along with some pictures he took in Washington, D.C:
"Teachers are easy to please. Some coffee, rolls and bagels, an occasional lunch, TIME to learn together and it’s Christmas morning! Well, it was Christmas in July last week at the Discovery headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, as forty of us from around the country gathered for the first Discovery Educator Network National Leadership Conference. Not only did we have the time and the place to learn together, we had great motivation and guidance from the likes of Hall Davidson, Alan November, Steve Dembo, Ron Reed, and the Travel Channel’s Educator Abroad, Josh Wolff.
But the learning wasn’t restricted to the fine presentations – roll out the red carpet! The first night we were treated to a barbecue on the roof followed by an evening tour of D.C. monuments. Since it was my first trip to the nation’s capital, I was especially moved to see Mr. Lincoln, stand where Dr. King told the world about his dream, walk through the four “rooms” of FDR’s terms, and see my high school classmate’s name on the Viet Nam Wall.
Wednesday night we attended a premiere of Discovery Atlas, a new series that will be debuting in October. Seated in Discovery’s state of the art HD (Hall Davidson?) theater, we watched the episode on China as told through the eyes of eight completely different Chinese citizens. We topped it all off with a Chinese dinner and a souvenir copy of the show’s soundtrack.
On Thursday we headed out to D.C. in our teams to gather information, sounds and pictures for our stories on America revealed. My team visited the Smithsonian, focusing on the original Star Spangled Banner flag and the impact icons have on our view of the nation. Our talented podcaster, Brian, even charmed a touring choir group into singing a verse of the anthem for us with a little help from an Australian. After working on our movies and podcasts all afternoon, we headed out for an evening of good old American bowling with books referenced during the conference as alley prizes.
Friday morning was a wonderful show and share as each team explained some of the process of constructing their projects and then showed the whole group what they had made and where it was posted. Then there was a quick lunch followed by a flurry of suitcases and almost everybody was gone (but not forgotten, judging by the emails and blogs I’ve been reading). I had the luxury of a later flight and leisurely took the Metro out to National with my own personal escort and tour guide, Dick Marchessault. And so my week ended much like it had begun, but on a much happier note. You see Dick had to escort me to the emergency room and a local pharmacy after the conference’s opening session on Tuesday when a “harmless” bee sting on the back of my hand had swollen its way up to my elbow. The DEN truly is a family (with a very generous parent) focused on the professional development and health of its members."