Honoring the past and focusing on the future

Over the past two days, I’ve been reading the comments posted by the
DEN community and wanted to take this opportunity to  respond.  First,
everyone at Discovery recognizes and respects the community’s concerns
and disappointment with what happened this week.  All of the DEN
managers were trusted colleagues and good friends and we will miss them
deeply.

In the messages, I noticed that several people have asked if the DEN
is going away.  The answer is NO…you are the DEN; it can not be taken
away, only abandoned.  The DEN Field Managers are incredible educators,
leaders and most importantly, friends.  Over the past year and a half
they have worked tirelessly to celebrate and connect educators across
the globe and in the process have built an unparalleled community. 

So what is the answer?  What is the future of the DEN?  This is what
I know.  The employees who will be managing the DEN in the future are
deeply committed to sustaining this incredible community.  Right now,
our thoughts are not focused on the future, but on our friends and
colleagues.  We plan to provide all of you a roadmap of what comes next
soon.  Next week, Coni Rechner, Betsy Whalen, Hall Davidson, Steve
Dembo, Lance Rougeux, Jannita Demian and I will gather for a series of
meetings and brainstorm ways to provide ongoing support to the DEN. As
we discuss these future plans, we welcome your feedback and thoughts.
   

This week, I received an email from a Discovery Educator in
Florida.  Through my visits to Florida, I know this gentleman is a
close friend of Karen Seddon, our South Florida Field Manager.  He was
offering his services to help us at FETC manning the booth, presenting,
basically whatever he could do.  Last night I received another email
from him that was a ray of sunshine on what has been a very dark few
days.  In his email, he wrote, “Just to let you know I still believe in
COSMEO, unitedstreaming and the DEN and my offer is still there.”  His
email brought tears to my eyes.

From the beginning, the DEN was your community, and the nearly
20,000 Discovery Educators and 2500 STAR Discovery Educators your
colleagues.  We are still committed to both education and educators and
will continue to do our best to facilitate opportunities for DEN
members to connect with their most valuable resource…each other.  But
we can not do it alone, we need you.   

Sincerely,
Scott Kinney
Director, Discovery Educator Network

Comments

  1. Karen Seddon

    That wonderful gentleman is the model of our great DEN members everywhere. I was so happy to visit a COSMEO training for teachers last night hosted by our wonderful gentleman, STAR DEN member Mark Hall and taught by STAR DEN member Michelle Brooks. The DEN will thrive. We’re just a little sad right now, but we need each other too much. Coni, Betsy, Steve, Lance, Jannita, Hall and Scott need our support more than ever.

    I will always be,
    Ubiquitously yours,
    Karen

  2. Teryl Magee

    Steve,
    If you go back and read this…I know this has been a tough couple of days for everyone involved in the DEN, and like the gentleman from Florida I still believe in US, Cosmeo, and the DEN, too! It will be up to us to maintain it! Gerard has been an inspiration to me and other members of his Region. I would hate to see all of his hard work go to waste. I hope that I can continue to participate in, present for, and support the DEN and Discovery.

  3. Tom Turner

    I would hope this entry doesn’t spiral down another track of entries like yesterday’s blog entry turned into. I will say that that the relationship that was forged between Danielle and I is something I will treasure for the rest of my life. I’m sure we can all share similar stories.

    My goal now is to NOT let their hard work go by the wayside. I am looking forward to helping shape the new look of the DEN, whether others may agree with this or not. I feel it would be a HUGE disservice to Danielle and Karen if I let this happen. As I said in my post yesterday, I URGE each and everyone of my fellow DEN members to take a moment, allow the shock and disbelief subside and be a part of this GREAT program. I’m reminded at times like this of a saying I heard in a workshop years ago when I was in my first year teaching: We must choose our paths carefully. If you compare yourself to a pretzel, you will eventually break. However, if you compare yourself to a twizzler, you will be flexible when you are bent. Now is the time we as educators need to be like a twizzler!

  4. Margi Johnson

    Having had the pleasure of working with both Hall and Jannita on several activities, I have complete faith that they, as well as the other directors, will continue to provide us with the excellent support materials and guidance we need to help our students to become thoroughly well-educated, productive members of society!!

  5. KRandall

    Tom- I can’t agree more. Remember DEN (as I understand it) was created for us teachers to share innovative and exciting resources, lessons, etc. to help us find new ways to teach our STUDENTS. And we need to continue doing just that, and unfortunately we’ll have to do it without our FM. We have been so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with amazing Field Managers to help us educators. They were the glue, the connectors, the facilitators to guide us. It’s unfortunate that the corporation world and the education world are so drastically different. I’m truly upset,saddened,angry etc. and my heart goes out to all the FMs I met this summer. I do think we CAN keep the DEN alive and we should. Is it going to be the same? That remains to be seen. And more importantly help our precious field managers secure new jobs! With 17,000 DEN members, surely we can help all the FMs in their search! Think about it, we all know people who know people. DEN is a family, right? Who’s ready to help?

  6. Joe Finkelstein

    I had the pleasure of attending the Den Institute in Atlanta this past summer. It truly was the Most useful/fun/uplifting/… work related event that I have experienced in my 22 years since graduating from college. Several of those years were spent in the corporate world where, back in the 80′s, being wined & dined and invited to a myriad of boondoggles was a frequent perk of my jobs. However, I NEVER (NEVER) had experienced the camaraderie, respect and teamwork that I felt in Atlanta this Summer. Katherine, Danielle, and Brad hosted this incredible event. Scott, Hall, Annie, and the countless folks from GPTV added icing to the cake. I am very sad now, but I know that the outcome of those too few days has left me with a group of incredible friends throughout the entire Southeast that I feel closer to than to the majority of teachers that I have worked with for the last five years. How can that be? I pray that we will continue to make the DEN a valued entity.

    To Discovery and DEN employees — please Know that you don’t need to spend lots of money to buy us “things.” I love my jump drives, and Lab Coat, and computer bag; however; I would give it all back in a hearbeat to keep Katherine as our Field Manager. Please just find ways to continue to facilitate events in which educators can get together. You don’t know how priceless that has been.

  7. Maryann Molishus

    I want to offer best wishes to all field managers. I hope you find this to be an opportunity to use your talents and enthusiasm in other ways. There is lots of need for people like you! For those who are still with DEN, good luck… and if you find you need help with your new endeavors, I know of several available, hard-working, knowledgeable people!!

    I appreciated all the comments over the past two days as well. It is nice to know that people care about people and that the concern goes beyond one’s immediate circle of friends and family. I am sure your kind words have helped those who are stuck in this difficult situation. I am glad to be a part of your group.

  8. Donna Criswell

    Joe, Tom and Kim,
    You are all correct – we didn’t need all the bells and whistles.. we do need the people, the connections, the support. I await the future because I too believe in the product but it has been a struggle, not just with this recent event, but overall in the last few months. I’m still waiting to hear who I’m supposed to contact and feel lucky I was not one of the people left in the lurch with scheduled trainings. Hopefully DEN will continue, but if upper management has no clear understanding about the vision and heart of it, it is doomed.

  9. Joy Wolfe

    In getting to know Conni, Scott, and Betsy just a bit, I can’t in my heart believe that the decisions made came from them. You’re all in a tight situation, and I pitty you that.

    Having said this, I can’t believe what I’m reading here. What we, as teachers, mean to Discovery is profit. You’re powerw that be have taken away the reasons we’ve all been so active and passionate, our field managers. Let’s be honest, several of you have stated numbers of teachers the DEN has touched, but let’s give credit where credit is due. It’s the field managers who have brought us here. For you to now suggest that we remain loyal to the DEN and to keep increasing Discovery’s profits while Discovery has all but yanked our support, seems far too one sided for me to remain interested.

    I hope that you’ll pass along the idea to whomever made this decision, likely a board, that in doing so they have alienated most of their customer base. I think that the sheer number of outraged responses in the first twelve hours to the earlier post as compared to the handful of supportive ones posted here illustrates that. Of course I realize that only the positive emails may be posted here. I’ll find out soon enough.

    The field managers were friends and fellow teachers who were fired three weeks before the holidays, and I’ll guarantee that they don’t have severance packages that will pay their salaries until August when it will be possible for them to get teaching jobs again. This was a poor idea, indeed.

  10. Elaine Plybon

    I think all of us are just reeling from this and need more information. The information that has come in so far has been sketchy and many of us have questions about where exactly the DEN is heading, what happens to all the projects, incentives, etc. that were already in the works, now that we’ve lost our connection. I agree that DEN is a wonderful thing, but I question whether it will survive as a strictly online venture. We can share and collaborate with educators online anywhere we want – we don’t have to have the DEN to do that – what made us stay here was the field managers.

    I’ll keep from continuing my own efforts to further the DEN, at least until some answers start coming to us. I cannot endorse something that I can’t trust – it is my own reputation on the line. Once I am convinced the DEN is solid, I’ll jump back on the bandwagon, as I have believed in the DEN and have been proud to be a member.

  11. Daniel Rivera

    This is Jeff Giddens and Daniel Rivera, from Georgia DEN. Some of you may know us from the silly Broken Bulb video.

    We had a lot to say about this turn of events, so we posted it on our blog:

    http://www.segatech.us/archives/1650

    The Field Managers are shopping for jobs while we shop for presents. Please keep them in your prayers.

  12. Ruth E Manlandro

    I am sorry to see that there are no more DEN Managers. We the teachers need to support one another and keep DEN going. This is a great tool for those of us that utilize technology in the classroom and are trying to change the way teachers teach.
    My students are currently working on Betsy’s project A year on Earth. It is being incorporated with their science class. The students are enjoying it and looking forward to a webinar with other students and brainstorming environmental issues.

  13. Jennifer Dorman

    I think it is heartening to see the positive commitment of many to maintaining this fantastic community that the field managers sacrificed to create and support. If we abandon the goals of DEN and each other, all their hard work will have been for nought. I commend the many field managers (including Shannon Gaumer, my FM) who, in their time of great turmoil and uncertainty, have contacted their DEN and posted comments to ameliorate our hurt and confusion.

    Now is the time for all of us to pick up their banner, take the initiative, and rededicate ourselves to the lofty goals of the DEN. This dynamic community should continue because it has and will continue to do exactly what it was created to do — positively impact student learning and support educators as they reform educational practice and infuse their teaching with 21st century technologies.

    Thank you to all the outstanding educators of the DEN. Regardless of how I feel about the actions of corporate Discovery (which I have articulated in previous posts) I refuse to abandon this community I have grown to respect and upon which I now rely. I am a better teacher because of my association with DEN. I can’t think of anyone who could argue that this experience has not been entirely invaluable.

    Please stay committed.

  14. Jennifer Dorman

    For all the remaining DEN staff, you have my support. I think you should tap into the expertise of those who have already been organized into advisory boards. Our commitment, creativity, and initiative can support you on local levels through this difficult restructuring.

  15. Joe Finkelstein

    It’s one thing to express sadness and concern, but all this talk of “Big Bad Discovery’s” betrayal and how “We are going to send back our Lab Coats,” doesn’t seem to be too productive. I don’t feel personally exploited, because GPTV pays for United Streaming, and I know that the product has been a valuable tool for many Georgia teachers. I would be very concerned as to the reaction of these Public TV entities that underwrite United Streaming. If recent changes mean that the product is not being utilized enough, then I’m sure that GPTV will have to make tough decisions.

    As for the Daniel Riveras and Jeff Giddens of the world — You guys are truly amazing and inspirational. If the DEN is no longer an option for you, spend your energies on developing an alternative way to communicate and bring educators (personally) together. I know that you are upset, but don’t make the majority of us not only lose our Field Manager (KATHERINE), but lose you guys too!

  16. Maureen Marino

    Jannita,
    I have a saying, from my desk calendar, that helps me get through yucky and stressful times, such as the one you are emersed in right now. “If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”
    You have been, and will continue to be, a beam of light to all of us “flagship” DEN members. We will follow in your examples and share our knowledge, no matter where your message is coming from and under what title. You are very passionate about your position and those of us who have worked with you share in that passion.
    Keep your head up so you can see what’s ahead. You can smile with the knowledge of how many people you have impacted with your stories, lessons, and guidance over the last year. We’re not going anywhere.
    Hugs and kisses,
    Maureen Marino
    (Golden)

  17. Grace Hauseur

    WOW!!! Restructuring is soooo hard: it is analagous to amputation. When the patient is initially informed of the necessity to remove a body part for the survival of the person all manner of grief, shock, disbelief occurs. But we must all remember that a doctor does not recommend amputation unless it is absolutely necessary AND the best, and often only, course of action. We all want the DEN to survive. We all know the impressive impact the DEN has had on correct nonlinear video usage, technology staff development, and standards driven student learning. The DEN resources have been incredible due entirely to Discovery Dept. Directors’ astute understanding that the best classroom educators are best at understanding the needs of classroom teachers working in a variety of environments. Discovery sought out and identified the best! Jannita, Hall, Scott, Betsy, Coni, Steve Dembo, and Lance have lived, breathed, and supported the DEN 24/7. They have embraced the DEN and welcomed us all as friends and important members of the DEN family. They will continue to work and speak on our behalf in our best interests with creativity and innovation. Jannita knows that I was impressed by her from the beginning because I try to tell her how much she is appreciated every chance I get. I have willingly driven 5 hours round trip after putting in a full school work day to attend DEN events because of her enthusiasm, ability to remember everyone’s name, position, previous conversations, etc. Jannita is unflappable. She is in the moment. She makes eye contact and connects. She treats EVERYONE as a close friend, sharing her own family happenings and asking about yours (and she remembers). I have seen her roll with initial COSMEO Family Nights when the CDs sent by Discovery to load in the computers didn’t work and she needed to problem solve on the fly SUCCESSFULLY! So although this is a shock, I am grateful that Jannita, Hall, Scott, Betsy, Coni, Steve Dembo, and Lance are still working to support the DEN. We are in good hands (sorry State Farm)!

  18. Jennifer Jensen

    First and foremost, I want to extend my thoughts and best wishes to all of the Field Managers. I can only imagine how difficult this time must be for you. The loss of jobs and friends is never good, but the circumstances surrounding this particular event are very tough.

    As teachers, I think we are often protected from the going-ons of cooperate America. I have always felt pretty safe with my job security…at least during the school year. Every school faces enrollment, staffing and funding issues at the end of each school year, but you really don’t hear of many classrooms or schools being “let go” in the middle of the year. The DEN has allowed educators to form a unique relationship with a powerful member of corporate America, Discovery.

    I think that the relationships between education and corporate America can sometimes be difficult. We viewed our wonderful Field Managers as fellow educators because so many of them had spent time in the classroom. They could understand our problems, find ways to encourage us, and offer support like only a fellow colleague could. Due to that personal touch that they always offered selflessly, we forgot that they were actually Discovery employees. We have now been reminded of that fact and it doesn’t feel good at all.

    Another fact we need to keep in mind is that the DEN is very new. It takes time, and growing pains, to develop a solid organization. Right now, the wounds are still new and everyone feels betrayed. I think that before we start sending back lab coats and computer bags, we focus our efforts on two things: offering our support to those who have lost their jobs and collecting information. Let your field manager know how much they have met to you and your students. Let’s also find out what the plans are, finish out the rest of this school year, and then make our decisions. I was disappointed to hear about those “former” DEN members who are making it their mission to spread their dissatisfaction and frustration with Discovery. You need to remember there are still teachers who want to make a go of the DEN.

    Over the past year, I have been working closely with Jannita Demian in Southern California. I would like to echo Grace’s sentiments. While working with Jannita at a state conference, I saw her ability to connect with everyone in the room. She made them feel important and valued during just that short time together. During the AMAZING West Coast Regional Conference in San Diego, I saw Jannita put all of us first as she strived to make our experience one that we would never forget. I LOVE YOU JANNITA and your DEN is here to stay!! I can say that I am NOT going to jump ship. Don’t get me wrong, I am upset and saddened by the events that took place last week, but I am also willing to see what Discovery Education and DEN have to offer.

    Discovery took a chance on us when they began the DEN…isn’t it only fair that we take a chance on them now?

  19. BetsyRuffin

    Though I will continue to support DEN and the support team left, count me too as one who will really miss the field managers. Michelle Weeks in Oklahoma/North Texas has been wonderful. Her work really encouraged me to put forth more effort in promoting United Streaming, Cosmeo, and DEN. She,and the other field managers I am sure, did indeed provide that human touch that is so important in true customer service.
    I also, like some others, find the timing of this change to be a bit tacky, coming at the holiday season as it does. I hope that the severance package was significant, but even more I hope that Discovery, in seeing all these comments, might reconsider their decision. I agree with the person who said he or she would be glad to forgo the gifts and incentives to have the field managers back.

  20. Carole Gooden

    To say that my heart is broken over the recent turn of events is to make my classic understatement of the year. The DEN is a unique entity in education, and the new leadership at Discovery is woefully short-sighted for failing to realize this. The Field Managers provided the spark, and were the catlysts for making the DEN grow and flourish. That they have fallen victim to the roughshod ways of corporate America is sad and disheartening, because Discovery has always seemed to be above the cut-throat tactics that we so often hear about in the corporate world.

    Let me say publicly that the Field Managers that were assigned to the state of Florida are two of the most talented and energetic ladies I have ever met in my four decade involvement with education. Karen and Danielle each gave 150 percent to every project with which they were associated. I am sure DEN members in other states probably feel the same way about their Field Managers.

    I have often stated that unitedstreaming is the best resource that I have found in my many years as an educator. What helped to make it such a special resource was the people who provided the support, whether it was in helping to train users or fixing the technology bugs that popped up from time to time. That dedicated people such as these should be treated as they have, is unconscionable.

    That said, however, those stalwart souls who are left to carry on, can rest assured that I will continue to promote the ideals that the DEN represents. After all, Discovery is not the DEN, we are!! All of us who believe in the ideals of providing our students with the best that is available, and who further believe in the motto of the DEN “Connecting teachers to their most valuable resource, each other!” I simply refuse to let corporate short-sightedness rob me of the willingness to work with like-minded folk to give the children of the 21st century the tools they will need to become the leaders, movers and shakers of their generation. Hopefully we will do our jobs so well that the next generation would never think of casting aside individuals the way Discovery seems to have done to so many wonderful people.

    We must remain positive, and to paraphrase a beloved Field Manager, we should strive to keep the DEN a “ubiquitous” entity.

  21. Kasey Russell

    Sorry, but the fact that the Washington Post article stated that Discovery has made a 350% INCREASE IN PROFITS just leaves a very sour taste in my mouth. It sounds like it was all for an increase in profit. I had hopes that Discovery was about more than that.

  22. April Hayes

    Despite the decision by corporate Discovery I am not willing to give up on this group. I have never seen a for-profit willing to do anything like the DEN, even if it was for 18 months. I will miss Dick Marchessault, he was amazing and inspired many of my staff to dive into the digital world. I wish him the best and hate that this happened so abruptly and before the holidays.

    I am confident the remaining DEN staff will work to make the best of this situation. We’ve all been through budget cuts in education and we’ve done great things with very little resources. The DEN, no matter what the future form is will be an asset, a resource we didn’t have 2 years ago. I for one will use it.

    As for corporate Discovery, having worked for 2 companies that went public, promptly fired prior to those decisions, I see the writing on the wall. Discovery is going public. I might be wrong, but if you do a little research, like I did to try and figure out the abrupt change, you find some articles, a few from the WashingtonPost, speculating this move. New CEO, quick dumping of staff and closing of locations, not to mention one of their biggest stockholders John Malone pushing for a piece of DirecTV, screams public. If they do go public, I see nothing but good things coming down the pipe for us the end user.

    I’m not defending the decision, just trying to make sense of it. I want the DEN managers back, but now I can at least partially wrap my brain around the decision. The 350% increase in revenue doesn’t bother me, because it’s revenue and not profit. They’ve nearly tripled the amount of content on the site over the last 3 years and have grown in number of subscriptions by probably more than that. So a 350% increase in revenue is the result of a good product. Revenue doesn’t equal profit.

  23. Carol Anne McGuire

    To Coni, Betsy, Steve, Lance, Jannita, Hall and Scott:

    You all have your work cut out for you. And you must know that we stand behind you. Although I have not met Steve or Lance in person (I feel like I know you both), but I DO remember the first time I met each of the rest of the staff. I remember every one of those meetings because each of you touched my life in a dynamic way. I am confident that between this group, there is more than enough enthusiasm, genius, and determination to make things work.
    I am grateful to be a part of the DEN. And I will stand by your decisions and continue to use and promote Unitedstreaming and Cosmeo both in my classroom and on an International field.
    I’m sending you all a big hug and lots of good creative energy!
    You all ROCK!
    Carol Anne

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