It has been just over one week since I returned from Bozeman Montana where I spent a week with about 150 enthusiastic like-minded educators. The common denominator that brought us together is that each of us is a Discovery Educator Network (DEN) Star Educator. The event, officially titled, Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute 2012 or DENSI2012 was celebrating its 7th annual event. Attendees are selected via an application process available to all DEN Stars. It has been my privilege and honor to have been selected to attend each of the last three DENSI events.
The DEN Summer Institute has become the most beneficial educational professional development event that I attend. In over 25 years in education, the institute provides long lasting connections and resources that I have not found in any other PD event, and I have been part of many events. I share a feeling similar to many of my DENSI friends that the most important take-a-way from the institute is the relationships that are developed in one short week. The bonds are created quickly and they are deep.
This week is like a family reunion … but one that folks like to attend. The setting this year, Montana State University, was fabulous. The accommodations, well, were far from luxury. We got to revisit our college days by living in non-air conditioned dorms in extreme heat and eat college cafeteria fare. Many ran out to the local department store to scoop up a fan. It is tough to travel home with a fan in the luggage, so most chose to leave it behind for Allison Bakken, a Bozeman local and DENSI Star. She will take them back to her school for use in the classrooms. At my last count, there were at least 25 fans in the lobby of the dorm waiting for her to take back to her district. Nice.
In the week that I have been home, I have received two phone calls from DENSI friends, Mary Carole Strother and David Fisher, one Skype discussion with Discovery folks in Silver Spring, Eren Koont and Rama Mandadi, and countless email updates from Edmodo and Facebook. Like it or not, we are connected across the miles. Personally, I love it. I love hearing from my DENSI family.
Magical stuff happens at the DENSI. It is difficult to put into words…so I won’t attempt. Suffice it to say that you have to experience it to understand it.