An important message from Discovery Education

We are writing today to notify you of some upcoming changes to the Discovery Educator Network (DEN) field program and websites.  Moving forward, Discovery has decided to dedicate its resources towards increasing its online efforts for the DEN.  We believe that this decision will allow the DEN to continue effectively supporting our community of educators and our fundamental goal of helping educators form connections, share information and best practices.

As a part of this shift, our active field managers will no longer be full-time employees of the DEN.  In the future, we will maintain a team dedicated to coordinating regional and national DEN activities as well as maintaining the DEN website and blogs.  We plan to introduce changes to the website after the holidays.  In the meantime, please feel free to forward any thoughts or suggestions you may have about how to make the DEN stronger, effective and more useful for your teaching and classroom needs.

This difficult decision was made neither easily nor lightly and we would like to take this opportunity to thank the field managers for their effort, passion and commitment.   We know that you will want to do the same and may do so by leaving comments on the blogs.

Discovery Education


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  1. sonja phillips said:

    Ok – so who will be our contacts? I will really miss my field manager – I hope she will still be around in some capacity. I wish DEN were keeping the field managers – they were the warm, breathing, human side of the DEN. Can we ask why the changes are being made?

  2. Debbie Bohanan said:

    By removing our field managers you have essentially unplugged the DEN. Our field managers made this network what it is today. They brought in the human factor as a contact person who was always there to guide you and help you on your journey. They empowered us to be better teachers and continue learning and applying new things. They were motivating and inspired us to reach higher. Karen Seddon and Danielle Abernethy went above and beyond and I will definitely miss working with them. To me, they were the face of Discovery and it won’t be the same without them. I feel like you have just taken my best friends away and I’m lost without them. This is truly a time of mourning for all DEN members.

    This is also a huge loss for Discovery. I just recruited three new Star DEN members and they feel let down and discouraged. They are wondering what else is going to disappear.

  3. Stacie Rivera said:

    This is a sad day. I believe it is the PEOPLE that have made DEN the success that it is. I love all the field managers I have met. They are so wonderful in all capacities!

    I too feel that the DEN will be lacking now. I’m not sure this is the best approach. Who will be teaching all the teachers how to use the site? Who will be teaching teachers how to incorporate the technology into their classroom? I know our technolgy team will not be able to handle it!

    What now?

    Stacie Rivera

  4. Katie Knapp said:

    Wow…I can’t believe that such a huge part of this program has been cut. Michelle Adams (VA) has been very visible and helpful in my school system as I have tried to recruit DEN members. Many have commented that the personal touch and accessibility of our field manager is what makes DEN so inviting. With the field managers, Discovery was not just a big corporation in the sky. I am very disappointed in this decision.

  5. Keith Schroeder said:

    At a time when we all felt like we were accomplishing great things through our DEN and our excellent field managers. . . this is a blow to our network. I am frustrated and suprised that a company like Discovery and the commitment they have to all of us in the education field, would have made such a move – and so sudden. We have ongoing projects with our field managers and have made connections for projects down the road. I think it would have been in the best interest of everyone to give us an ending date and let us tie up any loose ends instead of ending this relationship so abruptly. We all, I’m sure, want to continue this endeavor but the key role the field managers played is one I’m not sure we can overcome. This is truly a sad day for the DEN.

  6. Tom Turner said:

    I’m still pretty floored by this decision. I will definitely miss the human touch that Danielle and Karen has given the DEN to me. I can honestly say that I looked at all of them as not only colleagues but friends as well.
    Even though I don’t understand or comprehend what your decisions are based upon, I cannot, however, forget what the goals and vision for what the DEN stands for. I will continue to support and give my all to what I feel is a wonderful program that has truly made my job as an educator that much easier. I urge each of you fellow DEN members to continue to support one another in this network of truly remarkable friends and colleagues that are collected here.

  7. Betsy Whalen, Discovery Education said:

    Hi Stacie, Debbie et al:

    We are quite saddened by the news as well, but I wanted to reassure you that the DEN is not going away.

    One of the great benefits of working for a large corporation is that we’ve had some incredible opportunities over the last year to hold great events and reach out to over 250,000 teachers. The support we’ve received from Discovery Education has been unbelievable and for that we are all thankful. Unfortunately, one of the downsides of working for a large company is that sometimes we are affected by issues that are outside of our control. The decisions about the DEN were in no way a reflection on the success or merit of the program; we can’t always control the changes in the business and have to react to the changing realities.

    You are right, the DEN will change – and we are all so sad to lose our field managers, each of whom had become more than co-workers. I feel however, and based on my discussions with some of the field managers this morning I think they agree, that our job is now to make sure that the DEN continues to grow and thrive and their work is not lost. But I’d be lying if I said we didnt’ need your help.

    It’s up to us to carry the torch now and to continue to help each other grow and learn as educators. Together, we can continue to further the community that Danielle, Karen, Jan, Susan, Chris, Dick, Rachel and all of the Field Managers worked so hard to build. I know the DEN will be different – but I can promise you, the remaining team is 110% dedicated to serving the community and helping our students achieve.

    It’s a tribute to our Field Managers that we have so many talented, dedicated, passionate DEN members. Because of their work, I know that the community is ‘bigger than us’ and we’ll find a way to get through this together.

    Please continue to let us know your thoughts. . .

  8. Danielle Abernethy said:

    Tom, Debbie and everyone else-

    PLEASE stay strong with the DEN. I found it to be a source of passion in education again. Not because it was “Discovery” but because of all of you. Continue to discover new ways to bring technology into the classroom, continue to educate those at your school who are not as passionate about technology and it’s use in the classroom, and then networking with each other. DO NOT let all of our (and I mean that as in “our” the field managers and ALL OF YOU) go to waste. STAY STRONG and continue to grow.

    Our paths will cross again. If I go back into the classroom, maybe I can become a DEN member again. I’d love the chance to network with each of you. Scary – going back, but okay with you by my side.

    THANKS DEN STARS and the DEN team for everything! It’s been a fantasy!

  9. Steve Manns said:

    Who is remaining on the staff? I suppose there will not be any more DEN events? (I just attended a DEN event on Tuesday)or DEN visits? Other than maintaining the website and blogs what will the remaining DEN staff do?

    I have been attracting more and more attention to DEN and increasing the interest level in my area. This is very disappointing. I hope that the Discovery Channel looks at their decision and rethinks. They have started something that is next to impossible to do at the district level which is to collaborate with our peers about technology.

    Please rethink…….

  10. DarleneWolfe said:

    DrDSWolfe said…
    I am quite disappointed to hear of this sudden firing of the field managers — less than 3 weeks before Christmas. Having been to the National Leadership conference, I met many of these wonderful people who were only recently hired and moved from other states. The severance package should include insurance for at least 3 months, help with selling their new houses, and assistance with finding other jobs as well as a very healthy paycheck to ease the shock and financial and personal crisis Discovery has created for too many working people. At the leadership conference, I was so impressed with how well Discovery appeared to treat their staff. Today, it appears to me that you have reversed the lesson learned by Scrooge. You have also hurt the DEN members who rely on these wonderful folks who give so much of themselves and go well above and beyond as resource people and trainers. My field manager, Danielle Abernethy moved from South Carolina to Florida and had just bought a home. While in the midst of moving, she constantly was there for all the DEN members. Instead of being bitter, she expressed her gratitude for the oppotunity. Discovery does not deserve the loyalty of such people considering the way you have treated them! We have a lost such a great friend and resource person as a field manager but will always have her and the others as friends. Discovery has made a huge blunder in the educational community….You have become another corporation selling out middle America and education. Darlene Wolfe, Ph. D.

  11. Donna Criswell said:

    I am sickened by this news. Yes, change is hard and part of life but this was what set Discovery/unitedstreaming apart from the rest. The commitment to supporting educators was phenomenal and the personal connections made by the field managers was what made Discovery unique. It was through my connection with Dawn Strunk (New England Field Manager) and Angela Harris (Marketing) that made me WANT to be a part of the Discovery “family” and do for it what I would have never done for any other vendor our school system deals with. I am a Technology Integration Curriculum Specialist, and it is my job to support my staff and students with the innovations and tools technology can bring to their classrooms. I have a hard time keeping up! If not for the personal, timely, gentle and supportive communications with Dawn, I could have (and most likely will in the future now) put unitedstreaming easily on the back burner. I have connections to other vendor websites (Promethean, for example) who do similar things for teachers.. upload resources, Q&A, professional development, etc. But I rarely go to those sites because it’s always one more thing to do, to access, to keep up with, to remember!!! Do you really think teachers are going to do this? Because of my commitment to PEOPLE at Discovery, I have gone way above and beyond to spread the word about Discovery’s products. Teaching/promoting the product to OTHER school districts, presenting at conferences, speaking to parents (Cosmeo, etc.), teaching graduate courses on the products…. I could go on.

    Consider that for each Field Manager you had, the partnerships they developed were like having additional staff members (at little or no cost to you) and advocates for the product come renewal time. Products this costly NEED advocates or they will easily be left off the “need to have” shopping list.

    I am also disheartened that this was done without asking those of us who have dedicated valuable time and effort to Discovery for our opinions or our suggestions for possible changes. It has left me with a sense of distrust and insecurity about the future of this company. I certainly wish Discovery the best and hope the future will prove to be successful. It’s a great set of products. I hope you realize that this was more than a set of products… I hope each and every field manager will get through this holiday season with the knowledge that they truly made a difference. I gained a great new friend in Dawn, and for that I am grateful.

  12. Wendy Norton said:

    I really believe in the purpose of the DEn. However, I feel shocked that this has happened, I have really been happy with the efforts of Karen and Danielle. I will miss the interaction and encouragement that they provide, I do not want to see a disconnect happen based on this decision. I have participated actively in DEN outings, and will miss them dearly. I hope events like the Discovery Downlink will continue, my field manager was the one who contacted me in order to participate. Who will do this now? I know as teachers that we will continue to share and develop new strategies with each other, at least my hope is that this will continue. I feel really sad at this news and especially at this time of the year. I came from corporate business before teaching and have always understood change and the bottom line needs to be met, but education always seems to suffer. My wishes are that something great does not disappear.

  13. Michelle Rivera said:

    I, too, am stunned and mortified at this turn of events. Katherine Akin was the living, breathing HEART of the SE DEN, and I can not believe that she is without a job 3 weeks before Christmas.

    The Regional Managers are what MADE the DEN a successful organization! They were the glue that held us all together, and HELD US UP by supporting us and connecting us. The Managers were truly the HEART!

    I recently helped sell your UnitedStreaming service to several schools in North Carolina, and I regret that decision.

    I am gravely disappointed that not one of us DEN members, STAR or otherwise, was asked -or even notified- of this massively important decision. My trust in Discovery has truly been shattered.

    As a STAR DEN member, I will be retracting my membership.

    Let me repeat my intentions: I will be retracting my membership, and will no longer endorse Discovery Education. I will not promote its use among my university (a student population of 17,000), nor my College of Education or its Alumni.

    I can not in good conscious support a company that does not value its employees, and discards them so easily.

  14. Diane Darling said:

    The field managers are the reason some of us participated as Star Den Members. If it wasn’t for Karen Seddon, I would not have paid any attention to blogs, or online webinars. I have too many other activities to take up my time just trying to do a good job teaching. Karen is such a warm personable individual that many of us became involved because Karen cheered us on. I think you are making a big mistake with your decision to remove them. Karen kept me informed, went the extra mile to encourage me to stay involved, and helped me with my event. I can’t imagine this program functioning without her.

  15. Kathy Dziok said:

    So many of the comments that were already posted were said so well, and they express my sentiments exactly! I will truly miss the support and excitement that our DEN leader, Dawn Strunk, brought to our New England DEN. I really feel that Discovery Education has made a huge mistake in making this decision. Dawn was coming to our school today, Thursday, to help me promote Cosmeo Learning Adds Up to our school parents, and because I only received a brief message from one of the sales managers, and not knowing excatly what was going on, we needed to cancel this preview day last minute. We have many of our administrators and our parents now asking how they can be sure that this program will not also be dropped. Dawn truly worked hard to keep every one of her educators she represented motivated and supported all of us to be creative in using UnitedStreaming in our classrooms. She really was the true heart and personal touch of Discovery Education and I put complete confidence in her to be there whenever I had questions or needed help with UnitedStreaming or any other Discovery Education professional development and she was always there. Discovery Education made that impossible for her to be there today, and I believe that was unfair. I too have recently recruited two STAR Discovery Educators that were extremely excited about being a part of this great, personal network of educators. Dawn, our field manager, made that aspect of Discovery very personal and you always felt that you had someone to go to. I just don’t feel that way any more about the company. It really saddens me that a company so involved with educators would treat their employees and their clients with such a lack of support. We will have to see what happens in the future. I really feel like Discovery Education let me down and truly let their employees like Dawn down as well.

  16. Donna Criswell said:

    Michelle … I understand your anger. I recruited 14 plus teachers in my district to be STAR members.. and some outside my very own district.. all because I believed in the DEN “family” and only because I felt a connection to Dawn and wanted to help support her! I wouldn’t do this for any other company. These teachers were promised a congratulatory dinner to celebrate. That isn’t happening now.. So how do I (egg on my face) tell these teachers?

    I am teaching yet another a workshop to a totally different district this coming Thursday. My support from DEN is gone as far as I know. I will create my own materials and promote a product I believe in, but for a company that I no longer have faith in. Are my teachers still considered STAR members? Were their efforts in vain (application, submitting documents, composing rationale, attending webinars)? You have treated so many of us, Field Managers especially and most cruelly, with such disrespect. I am well known and respected in my area and reach out to MANY districts through my membership and connections with local Collaboratives. I have promoted and “sold” unitedstreaming to others.. all because I felt a part of this really cool team. No longer. This was cruel and poorly handled. I had inklings about poor management and other issues and shared my concerns with VP’s at Discovery and through the onlne webinar supposedly on the “future of unitedstreaming”. No one really listened… the agenda was clear.

    I hope that the “new” DEN will keep us informed..? I have no clue what to tell my teachers who put their faith in me.. or the many districts I have reached out to, and who have sought me out as a unitedstreaming “guru”.

  17. Gina Loveless said:

    I, like all of you am truly devastated by this breaking news and have many of the same thoughts and feelings. At a time in education where moral is waning due to budget constraints, the DEN was the spark that made me proud to be an educator. To be affiliated with such a supreme group was a blessing. As a Summer Regional Institute attendee I can’t reiterate enough the knowledge, support and outreach our DEN Field Managers gave us. I know these decisions didn’t come easy but this group is exceptional! Thank You Kristin, Dick, Linda, Jan, Katherine and all that I crossed paths with in Chicago. I was so lucky to have that opportunity! I look forward to the future when our paths cross again.
    Love you all!

  18. Karla Halcomb said:

    As a new Star educator, I am flabbergasted at the decision announced today. Just last week I met with Gerard, Dick, and Brad. The knowledge and inspiration provided for a stressed educator was a breathe of fresh air…. I was already looking forward the next meeting…. I do hope the powers that be have other plans for these dedicated leaders…. I’m wondering if I will be as active now as I had anticipated; it’s really hard to make time for the extras when they may not be worth it anymore.

  19. Sharon Betts said:

    You have done a huge dis-service to the DEN members. I am extremely disappointed to be losing this valuable resource who has become my friend. It is due to Dawn that I became a DEN Star Educator and her constant assistance that has been the “glue” that held us together.
    So very sorry.
    Sharon – Maine

  20. Doreen Palucci said:

    It was too good to be true. To have actual face to face, personal interaction will be a rare thing I fear….Can you imagine if they replace teachers for kids? Discovery should think again! We were just getting started here in Delaware and it was taking off. Thank you Shannon and all the field managers. You deserve better, and a place that considers personal interaction something that can’t be replaced. God Speed!

  21. Diana said:

    From my perspective it seems that what I have experienced as an educator is what the DEN is experiencing today. Unfortunately, it is rarely what is best, but most affordable. People and time are expensive commodities. I feel it year after year when we change things at school not because it’s the best decision, but the best decision that we can make with the fiscal limitations. I refer to it as the end of the year question… we know you like both of your arms, but you can only keep one… we will certainly leave the decision up to you.

    I think it is important to recognize that the way it always was is not the way it will always be. As an ardent supporter of technology, I am perpetually asking teachers around me to embrace change even if it seems a bit scary. As frustrating and disappointing as it is, today we are being asked to change as well… so, change we shall.

  22. Zulma Whiteford said:

    I am truly shocked by this decision. Rachel Amstutz was an enthusiastic and energizing leader for our DEN. She believed in what she did and was a fabulous spokesperson for Discovery. I am confident she will succeed wherever she goes and see this as a huge loss for Discovery.

    I sure hope these group received a substantial severance package for their efforts and their commitment to your company.

    Zulma, Ellicott City, MD

  23. Jennifer Dorman said:

    I am totally shocked and dismayed by Discovery’s decision. I have spent the past year and a half recruiting teachers into this powerful network that seemed to champion all the right elements of a professional learning community, especially the personalized connections and relationships fostered by the field managers. Now, those personalized connections are gone and along with it the elements that really set the DEN apart from other similar organizations. Shannon was doing a tremendous job as Lance did before her and the PA DEN was continuing to evolve into an amazing community. I am terribly sorry to see Shannon go and also feel sorry for DEN. Hopefully, the great work that the field managers started will be somewhat sustained in the reorganization, though I have my doubts.

    Teachers can blog from anywhere and can access and post activities from thousands of hosting sites. I sincerely echo the sentiments of so many of those who have already posted — Discovery has made a bad decision at the most heartless time possible. I understand that there must have been numerous financial issues, but this abrupt decision that appears to have materialized from thin air is simply ill-advised. This incredible network that the field managers have sacrificed to built and sustain simply cannot remain without that personalized connections. I am so sorry for all the members of the DEN; we have all lost something irreplaceable.

    Good luck, Shannon and the rest of the field managers. You will be missed!

  24. Louise Quint said:

    Shame, Shame! The Field Managers cared so much about all of their DEN members and gave them such supportive services and encouragement.

  25. Mary Davis -- Pennsylvania said:

    I am very sad to hear about this change. Shannon was great. We felt like we had a friend to guide us as we “discovered” new ways to enhance our lessons. Shannon’s emails helped keep us on task as well as to keep us informed about what was happening throughout the world. She will be missed by all. The learning opportunities and field trips were fantastic. Best of luck to all field managers.

  26. Chris Champion said:

    I wouldn’t be a DEN member without my my field manager’s encouragement. I am still working with (maybe not) my FM to get more people at my school involved. Come to think of it, without my FM, my school wouldn’t be a United Streaming school. I can only assume that the powers that be in Discovery Communications never MET the FMs.

    I don’t know really if there is any purpose of DEN without the motivation that the FMs have provided. Lance (Rougeux), I love you man… but you are not big enough to motivate all of us. Steve – likewise – you are a powerful force… but the FMs are people who are in the trenches, working with the teachers – the people that can make real change and a difference.

    I’d like to see a change from Discovery Communications. How many millions were spent on television shows? How many millions were spent to send a team of cyclists around the world every year? What does it cost to put these FMs in the field?

  27. Vicki Green said:

    Yes, it is a sad day when such a large company redesigns their forces – right before Christmas – without any warning – and lets go of key employees. Our Field Manager Shannon was on the turnpike coming down to host an event and meet some new people interested in unitedstreaming and Discovery. She had to cancel both, without any explanation. To top it off, Delaware was finally represented in DEN and our district has been adding more Star Educators weekly. It was our Field Manager Shannon who guided and encouraged us to move ahead. Reading all the other posts it is quite obvious there are many unhappy and cautious teachers wondering, Who Moved My Cheese?

  28. Bridget Belardi said:

    I am shocked and totally disheartened by this news. The removal of the field managers is probably one of the worst moves Discovery could have made. I have been a DEN member for a year and a half and the support, resources, opportunities, connections, and knowledge I have received from my field managers (Shannon Gaumer and Lance Rougeux) is unmatched by any other. The field managers made this organization REAL–not some virtual world where there are screen names instead of faces. They planned events, called when I needed them, emailed updates and opportunities, and knew their members by name. They created a family, a place where teachers knew each other and a place where teachers share resources.

    Tuesday I came home from a DEN event that Shannon, Lance and Rachel Amstutz ran at the Carnegie Science Center, excited and energized to try new technologies to enhance my students’ education. I learned to use programs and software that I would not have learned elsewhere. I learned more in those four hours than any school in-service. I was ready to go back to my building and district and pass on that knowledge.

    48 hours later, I am sad. I am disappointed and I am angry. I think it will be our students that will suffer from this poor decision.

    Please reconsider. We need our field managers to maintain the DEN as we know it!!!!!

  29. Jill Greiner said:

    This is a huge mistake and the beginning of the end. The contacts with the field managers are what set you apart from others. Now I am afraid we who are so busy will lose interest or turn to other resources. Please reconsider. Also, what a horrible thing to do to announce job cutbacks to employees right before Christmas!!

  30. Teresa Soyka said:

    And how is this a step forward? Where will I feel comfortable to ask my “dumb” questions and have someone patiently answer them? Who will help with my technology questions? Who will email the updates on webinars and other activities? Who will organize great outings with fellow DEN members? I need a real person, not a virtual helper.
    I strongly protest this decision at Discovery. Our field managers are an integral part of our professional development. They have become friends and colleagues. This announcement was an extremely ill-conceived and ill-timed decision.
    Please, please tell me this was an early April Fool’s Day joke. I will wake up tomorrow morning and this will have been a bad dream.

  31. Julia Tebbets said:

    What will we gain by losing a DEN contact person who is accessible in the real world? I met the PA coordinators, first Lance Rougieux and then Shannon Gaumer, in person more than once, and each helped me immediately every time I needed information. I became involved with United Streaming and DEN only because I first met Lance through the PA Keystones program. My participation in the DEN results directly from having a personal connection to real human beings whose hands I have shaken. How will the tiny remaining team, talented though they are, offer the same high standard of service?

  32. Donna Criswell said:

    I agree with you – I have felt for a while now – and voiced it to some VP’s – that there were too many new programs, products and “contests” going on lately. They’ve been spending more selling stuff than focusing on and supporting the HEART of this – unitedstreaming and the teachers who need to know how to use it effectively. Tech support has been suffering, product support has been suffering, and no one is truly listening. The only ones who truly listened and understood were the FM’s … and it’s because of the personal connection and commitment to ensuring that we all knew the power of this product and how to integrate it well with students. You have majorly missed the boat.

  33. Amy Gordon said:

    Well this explains why two events in Delaware were unexpectedly cancelled yesterday. I just launched a rather large DEN event in Red Clay School District, promoting both the DEN and unitedstreaming, Cosmeo, etc. I feel that I am party to misleading my teachers and adminstrators and parents-what will be next? Can I trust the continuation of other programs that we have promoted? Red Clay has been a power user for many years and this has left a very bad impression on me and I will certainly think long and hard before putting my faith in Discovery again. We had several events planned in our district and in the state and now we are simply left with the excuse we always have to use with technology-it’s great when it works. This has made us all look unprofessional and quite a blow to technology integration.
    Here’s a thought, perhaps a few less ridiculous incentives like the lab coats could have helped the salary budget. If you’re going to spend money on things-I’d rather see it spent on something I could really use like the support of a field manager.

  34. Cheryl Woolwine - North Florida said:

    I am really disappointed in Discovery. I always boasted that this was a company that respected teachers for the professionals they are, but now I find out I was wrong. Removing the Field Mangers was a mistake- they kept us motivated, trained when we couldn’t, troubleshooted, they were a support we could put a face to, they became our friends – they were the liason between other DEN members! Discovery you have really goofed big this time -I only hope I can contiuue to support DEN and discovery for the sake of the students but right now you guys have left a sour taste in my mouth and I don’t want to deal with you at all!

  35. Donna Criswell said:

    Touche Amy – like I mentioned before – too many incentives, programs, not enough focus on the heart of the products and meaningful support. I’ve voiced this .. no one was listening. Do they think their product will flourish without personal connections, motivators, mentors and quality support? Their product is too expensive without strong advocates in the field. They had a bunch of unpaid employees in us, and it was because of the FM’s that we did these things willingly. What a shame and how sad…

  36. Shannon Gaumer said:

    I’m grateful for everyones passion. This is surely a sad moment but lets keep things in perspective. This (the DEN) was only ever about one thing; the students.

    We were given an opportunity to form something amazing. A network of educators who believed that technology could enhance children’s learning. In fact, perhaps one of our single largest downfalls was that we were not out to make money. We believed that what we were doing made a difference in the lives of both educators and the children they touched.

    We’re all adults and we should understand that things aren’t always lollipops and sugar plums. Life is about conquering hurdles and coming out on top. Don’t let this change jade your vision. We started with a goal and that goal was to form a network of educators who were passionate about fusing technology into a somewhat dated education system so that our children are better prepared for the future.

    That network still exists. We (field managers) may have provided some guidance but it was all of you that worked so hard to make a difference. So now in our absence you choose to throw in the towel? The DEN was an ideology and that spirit needs to live on. We have all become friends throughout this experience and most (if not all) of us will be returning to the classroom to work along side those of you out in the trenches. I, for one, will be joining the DEN because I believe in it and I’ll fight for that belief until my last breath. No, the DEN will not be the same but the one thing that can’t be affected by money is the idea that the DEN stands for. Change is difficult but it builds character and gives us new perspectives.

    Everyone needs to understand that Discovery Education was born out of sheer passion and that passion has not died. Yes they are now dealing with some major budget cuts but hasn’t that become a recurring theme in education? We are always looking for ways to cut costs because so little money is ever directed toward education.

    We should be thankful that Discovery Communications (parent company) gave us the opportunity. Please keep in mind that Discovery Education has not been eliminated, they simply need to make some drastic changes to survive. In these trying times we must not loose focus. You’ve become the leaders in the Education Technology field and nobody can take that away from you. Everyone needs to continue to train others so that the network we worked so hard to
    create lives on. Please don’t let all of the hard work die in vein. This network only exists because of loyal members like yourselves. In our absence, the true leaders need to step up and continue where we left off. It will be a tough fight but doesn’t that make for the sweetest rewards?

    – Shannon Gaumer
    – Former Delaware/Pennsylvania Field Manager

  37. Ann Clark said:

    Hi, As an educator and an Instructional Technology Specialist, I am confused and disturbed about the proposed changes. There is no better way to support teachers and education than with personal, “hand-on” support. The information, timely ideas and communication with our local manager was always helpful, enthusiastic and well-received. Please reconsider your decision, as the system already in place would be assuredly better than just an “online presence”.

  38. Ray Waller said:

    WOW…such incredible feelings and emotion expressed here today. And it’s THAT passion is why we love teaching and props to Shannon for reminding us that it’s about our students. Sure it SUCKS, and there is never a good time to fire people but it’s another reminder of the budget constraints upon education.
    Like a newly pruned tree, the DEN looks pretty tattered torn-up and damaged, but it’s what we do and how we react these next few weeks and months that will determine if the DEN momentum thrives or fades away.
    I pray blessings and many thanks upon the FM’s and their families in these difficult times, your sacrifices and inspirations are why I will continue to be proud of participating and serving as a DEN member.
    So I encourage us to not allow rage, bitterness, nor pride to control us, but to be supportive and resourceful as to how to keep the spirit alive.

  39. Eric Langhorst said:

    I am shocked by the decision today. Linda Chiles, our Missouri/Kansas FM had a huge impact on our district in Liberty. She will be missed on a professional level and a personal level.

    Today you lost the support of thousands of teachers. No, I don’t think DEN will be the same and I don’t think things will work without the FM’s. I think the majority of posts above speak volumes for why this community worked and why it won’t now. I bought into the ideal that Discovery promoted – a community of people making learning fun and for me that community is no longer the same.

    I have posted a podcast on the decision at
    I hope the decision makers at the top thought this one through because a week ago I was one of DEN’s strongest supporters, today I don’t think I want to be a part of an organization that treats its people in this manner.

  40. Linda said:

    This is a big step backwards for DEN.

    I am afraid for me the field manager has been DEN. Without her I would have no idea what is going on, and really will not have much involvement any longer. Her e-mails have given me news about up coming events and her support has allowed me to do much more than I could have without her.

    I have a technology based classroom (30 computers) and love to teach with technology, and Jennifer has helped me find new things I can do with my students, and has supported me as I do staff training to try and help our building move to teaching with more technology. I will miss that help and support.

    I know our concerns and comments are not likely to cause the decision to be rethought, but I would like to see that happen.

  41. Hall Davidson said:

    Shannon, that is such a fantastic post. It has been a learning experience and an honor to have worked with you. Every other field manager, too. It is wonderful to know that I’ll be able to keep working with you in the DEN. The DEN has so many great educators– like you.
    This has been a very tough time. Most teachers don’t realize when they see a person in a booth at a conference or giving a vendor presentation that that person usually works without a long term contract. Or a short term contract. When I first talked to Discovery and asked what the contract period was, a woman I liked smiled and told me only educators ask that question. The job was day to day. A rolling one day contract. When we see those people in the company shirts, we should know that person loves what they’re doing –or they are in the wrong place. When I was with educational institutions for 27 years, there was a reasonable sense of security. Sometimes you leave that to go where you think you can make a difference. You took that chance. You did make a difference. The DEN made a difference. I think it can continue to that. With educators like you in it, it will. You’re right when you say it will be tougher now–but the spirit is there. Thanks for throwing some light into a very dark corner.

  42. Carol Miller said:

    I just can’t believe what has happened. I agree with everything everyone has already said. I have been fortunate to have been part of the Regional conference in Valley Forge this past summer. The friendships created are wonderful both with my peers and especially the Field Managers. The product, unitedstreaming is an asset to our schools. Last year only two buildings in our district were members. I worked very hard to promote unitedstreaming so that all of our district buildings now have membership. My district felt it was so important that part of my job became training unitedstreaming and doing building rollouts. I could not have done all of the work alone, Dawn was instrumental in supporting me whenever I made the call. We worked together to provide a large Day of Discovery for multiple districts near our town.I recently recruited 10 new Star members and I am left wondering how to support them. As educators we rarely have been provided with such excellent support and training as provided from Discovery Educator Network especially Field Managers. I hope that someone will let us know soon how the support will be provided.I have personally signed up two other districts but until I have some sort of assurance of future support it will be difficult to continue promote the product.I await support and future training for those of us that provide the training to our teachers.I would also like to add that I find it amazing that I received no official notification from anyone at Discovery. I guess somehow my email must not be on the appropriate list. I do not even know who to call to make sure that I will continue to receive information.My thoughts are with all the incredible Field Managers and employees that are now trying to pull their lives together.
    Carol Miller Maine

  43. Michael Stokes said:

    Totally disappointed and upset. I have encouraged use of unitedstreaming because of the accessibility and encouragment I received from our GA Field Manager. This is such a shock. We had everything rolling in a good direction and a decision is made to put up a dead end. What are you thinking?

  44. Harry Hanna said:

    I really hope that this decision is reconsidered before it’s too late. I don’t think this program is going to be successful in the long run without the human side of it. The last thing I need is to go to a huge event somewhere where you’re just a number in the crowd. People crave relationships and that FAR OUTWEIGHS the potential savings. Like everything else in education, it appears that someone else needs to take up the slack and it’ll pass to the DEN members I suppose to keep this network going. Once again, it seems that it comes down to the almighty dollar.

  45. Jesse Weld said:

    I am extremely disappointed to see the DEN field managers let go. They provided us with excellent information and were efficient in answering any questions we had. They were your greatest promoters of your product.

  46. Jim Hopton said:

    It was too good to be true. I suppose what corporate America gives it can also take away at a moments notice. In my 30+ years of being an educator, I have seen a plethora of ideas and initiatives come and go, but being involved with the DEN for the past year and a half, has truly changed the way I teach. The DEN has also changed the look of my rural school. We are now on par with schools across the US. All of these wonderful positive achievements did not happen because I found some on-line site to direct me. It was the human connection, via Lance, Shannon and all the wonderful regional managers that brought about this transformation. I can’t imagine not seeing them at the DEN functions. Perhaps the executives of Discovery need to re-read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

  47. Theresa Meade said:

    Michelle Adams is my field manager and I cannot begin to tell you how important she has been to me and to my career. It’s not just that she has put a face with the Discovery Network. She has been the connection between me and technology.

    I have been so grateful for every meeting, seminar, workshop, and institute the DEN has offered. But it was Michelle’s guidance, not simply the availability of knowledge, that allowed me to grow as an educator.

    Perhaps it is difficult for those in management to understand the value we place in our field managers. We need someone to show us new ideas, hold our hands, and create that all-important sense of community. Thank you, Michelle, Rachelle, Lance, and all the other field managers for providing that.

  48. Beth said:

    How sad! The Field managers are so important to this DEN… they are what got us involved… trained us on resources and kept us motivated to learn more… I will miss Michelle and am very disappointed to hear this news!!!!

  49. Dave Solon said:

    What set the DEN apart from other ‘Online Portals’ was the accessibility to the FM, the great support, and the human factor.

    I’ve been in the DEN for just 2-3 short years and I was finally realizing that it was something special because of these factors.

    It now looks like the DEN will simply be like all the rest of the “portals” on the web.

    I can’t describe how bummed I am about this. 🙁

  50. Patricia A. Hawkenson said:

    I expect I am not the only one wearing black today. As melodramatic as I know it seems, I have experienced a great loss. The outcry from your DEN and STAR DEN should be a wake up call to the DEN leaders that are left. You have shot yourself in the foot and it will be painful going now. How will you step up to the plate and fill the shoes of our field managers? It is obvious that you were unaware of what they truly did to build this organization. It was the field managers who motivated us and kept us going. They inspired us and treated us like friends. The personal connection is what made the DEN mine. In my 20+ years as a classroom teacher, I have never felt more valued and at the same time challenged and inspired! Now, like the others, I am hoping for a clear understanding of what the DEN is, where it is going, and who is leading us. I need to know this if I am expected to trust you enough to follow. LEAD ON!

  51. Nan Ward said:

    Your program has been wonderful! BUT, that was due to our “field den mother” Katherine Aiken. She helped me in so many ways and I was so proud of what I had accomplished with her support. I am very saddened to hear of her being replaced. She was the program. She will be missed and needs to be put back where she can do what we need.

  52. Shanon Flynn said:

    I hope you are reading the comments from the DEN members about this action and the way that Discovery did it! We are crushed that you are taking away our Regional Managers. Please reconsider and bring Danielle back!

  53. Sue Collins said:

    The Discovery Den person sold us on Discovery, answered questions, helped with logins, answered more questions, and really brought us to see that Discovery MIGHT offer us a potentially useful Educational resource. She then helped educate us locally and answer more questions. I can see now, that Discovery is more about business, than Education. Too bad… we were liking it. Education needs people, too.

  54. Anne Reardon said:

    While I am saddened by the news about the field managers, I do not think this has to spell the end of the DEN. The N stands for network…and what we have is a network of teachers who are all brought together by our passion for teaching and learning. The fact that we use unitedstreaming or other Discovery products is just one more common link.

    I belong to another educators’ network that is sponsored by a corporate entity. That organization has never had anything like field managers. There is one coordinator from the corporate office, but the rest of the “work” is done by the people in the network. We use a listserv to post questions or concerns or even successes. If I post a question, I usually have an answer within minutes from someone else who has been through the same thing.

    I’m not saying that I don’t feel terrible for Shannon and all the other field managers, particularly with the crummy timing of the decision, but perhaps this is a chance for us to help each other. I know it won’t be the same as face-to-face contact, but you can still build a relationship of helping and sharing.

    Just my two cents…

  55. w. daniel smith said:

    Well, well, well, I feel the same about this situation as the rest of you. The one upside is that hopefully these DEN Field Managers will be smart enough to go back to the classroom. It will be the few lucky students who will benefit from the lessons learned of these field managers.

    I would like Rachel to come teach at our school. Montgomery County Public Schools would be lucky to hire you! As a technology model school, unitedstreaming fits very well into our school and staff.

    I will continue to use it…because as a product it fits our technology needs, however, today I take off my Discovery Lanyard, discard my DEN Pin from my ID card and toss the plastic DEN Star member frame in the trash. I will still use the USB flash drive, but have covered up the Discovery name with a Christmas sticker featuring Scrooge.
    Big Dan

  56. Kasey Russell said:

    The DEN would never have grown or been so well used if it had not been for the face to face contact, encouragement and help given by the field managers. I’m afraid the DEN will just become another website that will only be visited by people who actually have time on their hands (this does not include most educators).

  57. Kristin Hokanson said:

    There is no better way to support teachers and education than with personal, “hands-on” support.

    I think that Ann summed up EVERYONE’s thoughts with those words….

    Yes–the star DEN members are innovators…
    BUT they are teachers, with all of the confines of a teacher’s day and not enough TIME to grow a network…
    Yes–Steve, Hall, Lance, Janita, Scott, Connie, and Betsy are powerful forces…
    BUT they are just seven people not enough manpower to grow a network.

    I too have attended numerous DEN events and agree with Bridget—I learn more in a short amount of time at these events than at any school inservice…these events were local and regional…they were timely and relevant to my instruction…These Field Managers had the time that many of us educators do not…to help create, inspire, innovate and plant the seeds that grow 21st Century teaching and learning ideas.

    I listened this summer at the National Leadership conference, to the vision…DISCOVERY’S vision to provide resources for teachers, for students, for the FUTURE of education…

    THIS is what I hope Discovery has not lost sight of…because the kids that directly benefit from all that Discovery has to offer are what really matter.
    AND I hope that the teachers in the network don’t lose sight of that either.

  58. Jen Turney said:

    I’m truly saddened by this. After being at our Regional Institute in Dallas this year, I was excited. Finally, I could put faces with names and had a GREAT time getting to know the field managers who were there.

    I agree with so many who have posted in the last couple of days–YES the face of the DEN has changed significantly with the loss our field managers. All of these people WERE the face of Discovery Education for us–otherwise this could very well be a ‘portal’ like any other online resource. I hate to think that, but it’s true. Without Chris’s encouragement, I probably won’t be active here much.

    Like was mentioned before, this is a NETWORK, and it’s up to the members of the network to make it live. But every group needs leaders–our field managers were ours.

  59. Khrista said:

    I am sad to see the personal faces of both the den AND Discovery Education go. It was because of the personal support of my FM (Michelle Weeks) that I even got started with Discovery Education. Yes, my district bought in, but Michelle was the one who conducted multiple trainings, then showed me how to do the same. It was Michelle who encouraged me to join the DEN. It was Michelle who fostered my enthusiasm, and she was the reason I encouraged teachers to use Discovery products so much. Discovery Ed should have found other places/ways to adjust their budget.

  60. Martha said:

    Wow. What a company! What other company in America would provide a place–the DEN Blog–for people to trash it? Are they just stupid, or is it the Macy’s/Gimble angle like the one in the movie Miracle on 34th Street? If you remember, the Kris Kringle character who worked for Macy’s actually told people to shop at Gimble’s. It worked for them. Maybe Discovery’s on to something here. Hmmmmmm…..

  61. Kay Teehan said:

    In my 38-year career in education I have run across both good and bad educational ideas. But the DEN program was beyond just a “good idea”. It was this huge corporation interacting personally with me and thousands of others educators in America and drawing us into a network of communication that allowed us to learn from each other about technology integration. It was my Field manager, Danielle Abernethy, that made it happen in North Florida and no online blog will ever replace her knowledge, enthusiasm, and sincere willingness to help us in the classroom. My school district has lost a wonderful ally in our struggle to teach the children. Her help was worth more than money could buy–and Discovery Education has made a huge mistake by letting her go.
    I know Danielle will be OK — she is smart, creative, and eager enough to find a place in the arena of education. I wonder if Discovery will be Ok without her? I don’t think so.

  62. Lynnette Criner said:

    I am befuddled and feel like a personal loss has been imposed on me. Being a STAR DEN member, and newly so, I have nothing but kudos to extend to Ronique Hicks. Her capabilities are extensive and her personal dedication to developing DEN was impressive. I have had the opportunity to work with liasons from other online “programs” and “portals” so I feel comfortable in saying that Ronique’s willingness to extend herself beyond the usual commitment to train and support her DEN members was exceptional.

    In regard to the timing of the change, as educators we are the benchmark for “People persons”, therefore anyone reading these postings should understand the many comments regarding the poor judgment on timing of this dramatic change. Further, educators constantly live their compassion, so I hope that upper echelon Discovery Education personnel will realize the passion of the educators who say they will disavow DEN connections are truly exposing their human side – their commitment to their fellow man – and not just themselves or their bottom line.

    Yes, we are involved for the benefit of our students and the future of our country in this fast paced technological world, so I’m sure there are those of us who will continue using United Streaming and promoting COSMEO. There are also those of us who, like myself, will now find it extremely difficult to sell renewal of contracts to our districts and use of these programs to our peers. One of the most potent arguments we had on our side was that Field Managers could be called on for training at any time to make sure meager funds in tightly structured school budgets were best used. Teachers have to be able to count on training by those who truly understand the plethora of applications technology can have. I will miss Ronique because I experienced such training and training opportunities with her during her brief tenure as a FM.

    I hope to be able to stay in touch with the phenomenal educators I met and worked with on the Advisory Board in New York and New Jersey. It would be an honor to continue learning with them and putting my newfound knowledge to work for the betterment of my students.

    Best wishes to all former FMs, and Peace and Good Will to all in the new year.
    Lynnette Criner
    Camden City Public Schools

  63. Stevie Kline said:

    How sad I was to read my email that Discovery Education thinks “moving forward” means replacing living, breathing, caring human beings with computer clicks. I have been a proud DEN member since 2005 and loved the combination of the technology with the actual presence of a live fellow educator to consult, first Lance and then Shannon. How tragic that a so called educational institution doesn’t understand or value the NEED for actual human interaction. It is a sad time for DEN indeed.

  64. Rachel Yurk said:

    I am right there with the DEN educators that have commented today. I am very disappointed in the way in which this has occurred. I have spent the last day or so stunned with how this corporation has treated their people. It is shocking how they have so easily dismissed the need for the DEN Field Managers, the need of teachers to have that connection so that we can learn and be stronger teachers. These people are the ones that started this program, encouraged the people to join, helped us to learn, and were the face of Discovery.
    I have listened to Eric Langhorst’s podcast and I cannot agree more with his description of feeling as if he were lied to about the goals of Discovery. I know for a fact that the DEN FM’s were given goals to meet in terms of educators recruited, training sessions done by their educators, etc., and they have EXCEEDED those goals. So the use of the term lied is accurate. We set goals for children all of the time. We set personal and professional goals ourselves. Our DEN FM’s set and achieved their goals and were fired with what seems to have been little or no warning. We would not do that in education to our students, our teachers union would not allow for that and I feel it is terrible that this was allowed to happen to them.
    I have read the blogs and experiences that educators have shared through them. I too am a STAR Member working hard training for Unitedstreaming in neighboring school districts, doing DEN Extra Credit Assignments, and have attended regional events. I have met and become very good friends with other educators in and out of my state through these experiences. I have met and become friends with other DEN FM’s in my travels as I have spoken at 3 national conferences over the last year. I have never met so many talented, dedicated people in one corporation. I spent a great deal of time with Jan Wee learning, training and getting help with special projects and I am crushed for such a talented woman to have been treated in this way. Jan, you are the best. Please let me know if you should need any sort of help, letter of recommendation, etc.
    I work very closely with another corporation that has recently spent some serious time peeking into the success of the DEN as a model to follow. I know that at this point, they are no longer looking. I really trusted in this family that was the DEN leadership team, and by that I mean the employees of the DEN. I would like to believe that this was a decision from the top, someone high in the Discovery leadership that has no understanding of what it means to be a teacher or the needs of a teacher. I have a hard time believing that Besty, Hall, Steve, and the others were the decision makers in this horrible decision. To whomever that is, I would remind you that trust is a very hard thing to earn, but it is even harder to earn a second time. What were you thinking Discovery and what are you plans to fix this?
    All my best to those of you who have lost your job at this time of year. My thoughts and prayers are with you!!!

  65. Donna Criswell said:

    With all due respect Hall, Betsy and Shannon, please give us our time to grieve, to vent and to feel. Don’t diminish what we are all experiencing by trying to rationalize this abrupt decision, or tell us how we “should” be feeling. Taking the high road may be politically correct, but it is not what we need right now. That being said, this is far more than us feeling badly for a bunch of really nice people with whom we made personal connections. This is about mismanagement and overspending (open bars, hotels, unnecessary gift promotions, just to name a few, and not on the FM’s parts), lack of respect for the FM’s AND for those of us in the classrooms and schools. Many of us have been abandoned and left stranded with trainings, promises of materials and incentives, and no one to turn to for technical or curriculum support. Does anyone know who we should be contacting right now?!?! More importantly, a lack of trust has now exists that will never be erased. A company is nothing if not for the trust it has earned from it’s customers… and we are your customers.

    Discovery will not sell new, or maintain very many existing contracts without strong advocates in the field. The advocates in the field (me and everyone else in this blog) were supported by the FM’s and that was what made it work. I don’t have the time to keep unitedstreaming in the forefront of my everyday existence but it was Dawn who kept the light shining and reminding me, supporting my teachers and providing professional development. I do have a full time job other than promoting unitedstreaming! Business Managers, Superintendents, School Committees, PTOs, etc., will never understand the power this resource can provide its teachers and students without advocates like me “selling” it, and with a high price tag, it will not be viewed as a necessary line item. Trust me on that one. Do your marketing and sales people know what just happened? Do you not realize that this will significantly impact your bottom line further? I am actively investigating competetive products like the one Janet Tortora mentioned on the Discussion board and that I was personally introduced to at MassCUE. I feel I have to now…

  66. Dave Ryer said:

    As a person who just became a STAR less then 2 months ago, I am at a loss for words. Shannon and other STAR members in my school district recently presented COSMEO to parents and students. This was my first time meeting my field manager Shannon. I was very impressed that she drove a great distance to help make this night a big success. Without field managers, how will the DEN be the same?

  67. Mark Hall said:

    Is what happened this week a shock………yes! Do I feel bad for the field managers……….yes! But, I’m sure they are being taken care of by Discovery and that they will land on their feet and look back on their time with the company as a valuable and rewarding time that served to enrichen their lives and careers. I have had the opportunity to meet and work with four of them and I’m sure that none of them want us to respond in the way that many of these comments read. Yes, maybe Discovery could have implemented these changes in a more acceptable fashion, allowed the field managers to finish the things that they had already planned. The field managers have basically devoted their lives to the DEN over the last year and I’m sure that everyone of them wants to see us continue to make the DEN what it has been, a place of sharing, learning and helping each other with implementing technology and digital media into our classrooms. Will the DEN be the same without them…………. Of course not but that doesn’t mean that it will not support and help us in the future. It is now up to us the DEN members, and after all that is what the DEN is really about US, to carry on what has been started. I firmly believe that Discovery will still be there to support us and will provide us all of the support that they can. This is a time of change for Discovery and if they realize in the future that they need more staff to effectively support the DEN then I would expect to see them add additional positions as needed. Sure we miss our field managers but let’s face the change as they would want us to and lets continue to use the DEN and each other as it was intended, to help each other and improve the jobs we are doing in our classrooms. After all, when a lot of us started we didn’t have a field manager for our states and we were willing to join then and I don’t see this as being much different.

  68. Joe Brennan said:

    I did a presentation for a school this afternoon and a student’s hand-lettered sign was staring me in the eye for the whole hour:
    “I cannot change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

  69. Joy Wolfe said:

    Let’s get something straight here. Discovery is about profit. They’re a corporation, which is why we can say, yes, they fire people. They’re a corporation. I can’t buy the need to shift profit theory though, especially when I know for a fact that our field managers met and exceeded every goal they set.

    Second, Discovery is not about the kids, ladies and gentlemen. We’re about the kids. We’re the passion, the force, and the power of this network. That’s not going to go away because of their actions. Discovery was the corporation who was smart enough to capitalize on what we do and who we are. They made it advantageous to help them, but that’s no longer the case. We’d be fools to keep increasing their profits while they offer very little in return. In addition, would a company who is “all about the kids” lure several of our nation’s best teachers from the classroom in the middle of a school year only to fire them at a time when they can’t then return to the classroom? Honestly.

    I must say, I feel totally idiotic for having stood before legislators and statewide technology experts in DC this fall speaking of how the strength of unitedstreaming was their support offered via field managers. Egg on my face. (and by the way, Brian Murphy, who asked me to do this stopped returning my messages when it was time for me to be compensated for personal leave I gave up.) Bad business.

    I no longer trust discovery. I no longer wish to be associated. I will be contacting the Statewide Educational Technology Directors association to whom I spoke and expressing my frustration with this company. I don’t think that Discovery realizes that we’re not only great teachers, but we’re leaders in technology education from across the United States. I hope that the people whose pictures appear above will share these sentiments with whomever made this horrible decision. They’ve shot themselves in the foot.

  70. Deb Holman said:

    The following ia part of an email that I sent to my field manager:

    I am a fairly inactive member of the DEN due to recently added work responsiblities, but I wanted to express my appreciation for the work that you have done. One thing I never failed to do each day was to read your emails and at least check out whatever “new thing” was happening at the DEN.

    Now that I’ll have to do that on my own I’m not so sure that I’ll stay on top of whatever is happening.

    I also want to express my extreme disappointment in Discovery’s decision to eliminate the human factor from the DEN. As many people have already said, it is EXACTLY this “human-ness” that encouraged us to join the DEN, participate in activities, and most importantly (at least I thought it was) promote the positive aspects of purchasing for their districts.

    I am the person that brought unitedstreaming into our district. We have a BRAND NEW middle school, with interactive whiteboards in every classroom. Considering the massive amount of new technology that the staff is attempting to learn, general training on unitedstreaming has been put off until later in the year when the staff has become more comfortable. At this point, only a few people are making use of the site. I had hoped that, with your help as the FM, we would encourage more use within the district.

    My concern, now that FM’s are not available, is that usage will not increase, and as a result, the district will discontinue funding for unitedstreaming.

    I can’t imagine what financial issues prompted this extremely short-sighted decision. Talk about an example of “penny-wise and pound-foolish.” This decision has created a major disruption in the way that people access the services of unitedstreaming. Most importantly, the way that Discovery has just cast aside the FM’s has left a bitter taste in many member’s mouths. The damage that this decision has done to Discovery’s reputation will be difficult to overcome

  71. Daniel Rivera said:

    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:

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

  72. Katherine Aiken said:

    Jeff and Daniel,

    As the former DEN field manager for Georgia and Alabama, I truly appreciate all that I have learned from you guys! You have been my mentors since I met you, and I know that our friendship will continue.

    I am currently meeting with potential employers who know what has been accomplished in Georgia, and they too are reading your blog comments. Please know that the field managers across the country are reading what educators are saying, and it helps us to know that we really did make a difference to the members of our communities.

    I will keep you posted on my future plans, and I appreciate your support and true loyalty!

    Sending smiles,
    Katherine Aiken

  73. Eric Langhorst said:

    This whole Discovery Education Network thing just makes me more upset as more time passes. I really thought have a couple of days would help but it hasn’t. I know some of the people who ramain at DEN and know they are good people who want the best for educators but the corporate side of Discovery is basically insulted all DEN members by assuming we will continue to basically work for them for FREE and promote their products to fellow teachers. I still don’t know if I want to remain and active part of DEN or cut all ties but things like the following article about the elimination of the Field Managers really makes me mad.

    Here is the link to the story in the Washington Post and I hope you read it and listen carefully to the message being sent to us (teachers) by corporate Discovery. Here are a few quotes from the story:

    “Company officials said many of the positions were unnecessary and that the changes would not impede the company’s goal of expanding its education business, which it says reaches 70,000 schools.”

    “We announced a reorganization of the education group this week. That included shifting responsibilities, elimination of office space and reduction in force that included redundancies and overlapping functions,” said David Leavy, a Discovery spokesman.”

    “According to an internal memo sent to employees Wednesday, the division’s revenue has grown 350 percent since 2004. The company declined to give the division’s total revenue amount. It also said affected staff might move to other openings within Discovery, including to new initiatives planned for 2007.”

    “Whenever a company completes multiple acquisitions, there is an important responsibility to continually re-evaluate existing costs, structure and business strategies,” Steve Sidel, executive vice president in charge of Discovery Education, said in the memo. “Discovery Education is now in a position to consolidate the business operations of these new companies and gain valuable economies of scale through a careful elimination of redundancies and certain non-core functions.”

    Are you kidding me? They called the Field Managers postion “unneccesary” and it would not “impede the companies goal of expanding it’s education BUSINESS”. If BUSINESS is all they are concerned about you think a 350% increase in revenue might be enought for them.

    I think the writing is on the wall – what I thought made Discovery great (the personal aspect and the person connection) is now out the and bottom line is what it is all about. I truly worry about the good Discovery DEN people left because it looks like corporate is planning on trying to have you do the work of the 20 people that they fired and if they think I’m going to use a web based portal in the same manner I used the Field Managers they have played the wrong card. There are plenty of other organizations and causes that I can spend my time and energy on to help students and teachers.

    I’m sending back my Discovery Educator lab coat to Discovery on Monday. I feel bad for the seven DEN people left but unless something BIG happens to reverse this injustice I’m not longer proud to be a member of DEN – an organization that I once promoted everywhere I went. Sad.

  74. Carolyn Tuomy said:

    I toatlly agree with Eric Langhorst’s comments. The DEN field managers were the people connection that personalized the DEN. Weekend events that they set up and the regional institute were the connection, not a web site. Getting to know people personally helped me to learn, grow and want to share with other educators.

    What really angers me is the Scrooge mentality of Discovery. Most of the DEN field managers are classroom teachers and laying them off at this time of year makes it almost impossible for them to go back to a classroom postion at this time. They couldn’t wait until the end of the school year?

    I will not be shopping in Discovery Stores this holiday season and will encourage my freinds and relatives to do the same.

  75. Donna Criswell said:

    So Steve Sidel, executive vice president in charge of Discovery Education, considers the FMs part of “certain non-core functions.” He clearly doesn’t get it. He (and whoever else decided this) has just insulted all of us as “non-core.”

  76. Joe Finkelstein said:

    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!

  77. Joy Wolfe said:

    Joe, I must respectfully disagree.

    Carolyn, not only am I not shopping at the Discovery store, I’m not watching Discovery except to get sponsor information so that I can make sure they know what’s going on with this company. I have already contacted my school families, past and present, and sent them the link to the article. Last year my classroom, parents included, worked closely with Rachel Amstutz, and they need to know.

    Discovery as a corporation doesn’t feel that the elimination of jobs they see as unnecessary and repetative will slow their business at all, but I beg to differ. They have just alienated 250,000 teachers who collectively have the ears of millions of American families. Can you imagine how their profits would suffer if we all made it a point to show them how their money making decisions have affected their customers?

    On a slightly more positive note, I have started a topic on the discussion board for Rachel, and I urge others to do the same for their field reps. Not only will our positive comments help them as they move through this difficult time, but they will be able to use them to demonstrate to prospective employers what a difference they made to educators in a way that the lovely comments mingled among everything else on the blogs cannot. I encourage everyone to write something wonderful about your field rep on the discussion board.

  78. Michael Horn said:

    Well I have waited a two days so I can cool off before posting to the blog. I was both surprised and shocked to hear our DEN manager, Katherine Aiken, has been “Let Go” just a couple of weeks before Christmas. HO, HO, HO.
    The support that Katherine has given to Discovery for the last two years has been felt throughout the states of Georgia and Alabama. Her desires to help educators improve in the classroom through the use of DEN has been a reward to all those Katherine has worked with during this period of time.
    We understand that Discovery is like most other cooperations and it is about the bottom line for profits, but when you eliminate the “Personal” face of Discovery, someone we can reach out and talk with through emails, phone calls or blogs, you have slapped yourself in the face.
    I reach about 600 pre-service teachers in the state of Georgia each year and have nine districts that have about 15,000 teachers that I have the responsibility to keep current in Technology while we move into the 21st Century Classrooms. Who are our contacts for training materials, give-a-ways for state and national conferences, and just who do we go to if we actually have a question that someone on the blog can’t answer.
    Anyone who has been called to teach certainly isn’t in it for the money. A smile, photo on a blog or website, an email letting everyone know how much we “were” appreciated is just about all any of us ever asked for. That is what you region managers did for us in the name of Discovery. They made use feel appreciated and that is something you should have consider when making your choice to eliminate the Region Managers. It was a bad upper level (probably non-educator) management decision. Hope you can recover from the choice you made. Mike Horn, Associate Director, Educational Technology Training Center, UWG.

  79. Donna Criswell said:

    Corporate’s lack of respect for it’s dynamic team of educators is sad enough. They couldn’t have truly understood what the FM’s did for their constituents – us! And how poorly that speaks of them to not know this key information. Marketing and sales must be turning in their soon to be graves…

    I suppose if we changed the terminology a bit they might have understood. We are not just “teachers” who were being treated with goodies and dinners, etc., we are customers… constituents! If they truly understood that they left a huge customer base high and dry, with no explanation, no further contact information, no answers, broken promises.. they would not have done this. We would (will?) pull our accounts ASAP!?! No one in the “real” business world would do this to their customers!

    Support in general at Discovery has been going downhill since June, for me anyway, with personnel changing, communication among Discovery staff severely lacking (and filtering to the customer), and technical issues not being resolved. Hey, I want a partial rebate – the “builders” have not been working properly since the upgrade! I’ve been in contact with several people for several months now – would a customer other than an educator put up with this? Discovery – wake up!!!

  80. Scott Johnson said:

    “Mr. Johnson. Is something wrong? You don’t seem yourself today.” That is what my one of my 8th grade students said to me after I learned of the DEN “makeover.” I decided at that point to inform my students of these latest developments.
    “So does that mean you won’t be sharing any more cool technology stuff that we like so much?” another quizzical student asked. I let them know that I will still share as much as I can to enhance our learning and make school more fun and interesting, however, my main source and motivation for those ideas has just been eliminated.
    “You mean we won’t be able to do all of those cool things you showed us like learning how to geocache, make movies or trailers with video cameras and Photostory, creating blogs, wikis, and podcasts, or use Power Point game shows to review for tests?” they replied.
    “No. We will still do those things. Unfortunately, it will be much more difficult for me to find new and better ways to use our technology to help you. With a very small exception, we are pretty much on our own. I have a few other sources but none that are even closely as powerful or immediately applicable to what we had through the DEN,” I shared.
    “Mr. Johnson, we loved it when you went to those events because you always came back excited and smiling. And best of all, we knew that we would be learning how to do something new and fun with our laptops.”
    After several who, what, and why questions from the students, most of which I didn’t know the answers, we went back to work in a very melancholy setting.
    Perhaps the folks who made this decision didn’t realize that it has a direct effect on students throughout the country. Corporate America was finally stepping up to the plate and making a difference in the education of our youth. The DEN created a model that not only worked, but also worked very well and was envied by many other competitive companies. They certainly made a difference in my classroom. They were able to provide resources and trainings that school districts could not. That is why it was so hard to read that Steve Sidel, executive vice president in charge of Discovery Education stated that they would be better after “a careful elimination of redundancies and certain non-core functions.” To me, Susan Staat and the other field managers were essential to the success of Discovery Education. Not only were they essential, in my opinion, they were invaluable! To refer to their positions as redundant and non-core is painful and insulting.
    I truly hope that Mr. Sidel, Mr. Hendricks, Mr. Zaslav, and others were will revisit their decision and realize that a huge mistake was made. For the sake of our field managers, my fellow teachers, and most importantly, our students.

  81. Brian said:

    This was sad news to here. I first of all want to say thank you to the field managers for all of the support and encouragement they have given. They were an invaluable resource to have. Whether Lance or Shannon, they were always there to repsond with and help, answers, support or encouragement. The Field Managers played an important role by providing us with a connection. They played an important role in supporting integration of these great resources. Although the DEN is a great resource and very valuable, the field managers provided a personal connection.
    I wish you the best and your help and support will be missed.

    Thank you,

  82. Christy Marchessault said:

    Dear Dad,

    I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for everything you did during your time as a DEN Field Manager that helped me to grow as a teacher. Sure, you would have shared your insights and talents with me even if the DEN had never existed – after all, you’re my dad! I know we still would have collaborated on the countless projects we have created together for my students. But it was through the DEN that you have truly made a difference in my career.

    Without the support and materials you provided to me through the DEN, I would never have been able to conduct the numerous unitedstreaming trainings I did this fall in my district. And now look at me, a fourth-year teacher running my own professional development workshops for teachers who are sometimes twice my age! (No offense to anyone who may have attended one of my workshops.) That’s more than I ever dreamed of doing at this point in my educational career, but it all came about because of your work as a DEN Field Manager. Think of all of the teachers and media specialists I was able to reach and multiply that by the number of students in my district who are now benefiting from all that unitedstreaming has to offer, all because you gave me that opportunity. And now as a result of my new “tech wizard” reputation, my principal is pushing to have an LCD projector mounted in my classroom! Think of the amazing window of opportunities that will open for my students and me. Again, this is all a direct result of your working with me through the DEN. Yet another example of the impact you have had is the fact that Kristin and I started a Technology Club at our school after attending the Day of Discovery in Lake Geneva, WI. Yet again, this is something that may never have transpired without your work as a DEN Field Manager. I’m sure I could go on and on, and I am just one teacher out of the many you have touched through the DEN.

    Dad, I know you will always be there for me and that you will always be my #1 supporter as I continue to grow and learn as a teacher. I mourn the loss of this special relationship we have enjoyed through the DEN and I cannot even express how much I will miss having you as my Field Manager. However, despite all of the sadness I am feeling right now, I am trying to focus on all of the wonderful things we got to do together through the DEN. Everything we’ve done will have lasting effects on my students, the students in my district, and even students across the country, as we have seen. And that is why I want to thank you. You poured your heart and soul into the DEN and I, for one, am truly grateful.

    I love you, Dad.


  83. Kara Leonard said:

    When I first met Katherine Aiken, I knew she was special and I knew that she believed Discovery and being a DEN Member was something to deem as special too. I joined the DEN, not for free gifts but because of my Field Manager encouraging me to be a part of something that was amazing. I had the privilege this summer to attend the DEN event in Atlanta and I came back from this conference ready to CONQUER the world! I was so “pumped” up about Discovery and the DEN Network and how truly special it was to be a member of such a great network. In fact, at this conference, I met an educator that does the exact same job I do in South Georgia and she is a dear friend to me. I have told numerous people that the DEN event (which was set up by FIELD MANAGERS) was the BEST conference I had ever attended because I not only was inspired, encouraged, educated, I met people who I consider dear friends and honestly I yearn to see them again to network, promote and encourage (this is what I thought made Discovery/DEN stand above everyone else). Discovery had TAPPED into what educators had been looking for, for so long. Now, without any warning, the heart and soul of DEN has been taken away. The Field Managers worked to build up the DEN and did an OUTSTANDING job, and for what? Nothing, they (the backbone) are now without a job. In January Katherine and I were setting up a DEN event for North Georgia (so obviously she had no idea in November that she was about to be fired)-so I am assuming that event has been cancelled! I train teachers in my county and I was SO PROUD to encourage them to become part of the DEN and now, I have a lump in my throat, I cannot encourage someone to be a part of a network in which you have no idea what will happen next. I do tons of trainings and forward those to Katherine because I do think the tools on Unitedstreaming are great for teachers but beyond that, I wanted Katherine to see her hard work was paying off! I appreciated all of the gifts that I received for being a member of DEN but those items mean nothing without the Field Managers. I am ashamed to be a part of DEN now, upset, sad, and disappointed. Katherine, Danielle, Brad and thers I met were not just Field Managers (Annie), during that short week, they all became my friends, my inspiration and yet you tell me to move on, that DEN is still fine. It is not, it won’t be, and I hate that such a great treasure for educators was taken away. You say the Field Managers were cut and now funds will be used to enhance a website. We don’t need an enhanced website, we don’t need gifts, we don’t need large changes made and just thrown out upon us without any WARNING. Discovery had stumbled upon what we as Educators NEED and yearn for, yet, without consulting us, you took away what we felt made DEN truly special! I would like to thank the DEN Field Managers for all of their hard work and dedication, you were truly an inspiration to me and so many other Educators, you were the reason I was a member of the DEN! I love you Katherine!

    Kara Leonard

    Murray County

    Instructional Technology Specialist

  84. Kasey Russell said:

    My anger last week was tempered by the thought that it is a tough economic time and that tough choices have to be made. THAT WAS BEFORE I READ THAT THEY HAD MADE A 350% INCREASE IN PROFIT!!!!! Boy does that stink of greed.

  85. Mark Jeffery said:

    Like most of the STAR DEN teachers, I have been closely following the unfolding of this DEN drama since moments after Susan and 16 of the other Field Managers were callously let go. Much has already been written and commented upon regarding the timing, supposed corporate motives, and lack of communication with us, the “customer evangelists”. While I echo the strong desire of many to threaten Discovery with loss of customers and revenue, I know that a company this large and successful is not intimidated – And I don’t think that as professional educators we should be teaching our students that it is an acceptable way to influence proper decisions and behavior. (We already have too many angry words and wars!) We do however, have a responsibility as representatives of our students and school families to voice our thoughts and recommendations about what has happened and how (or even if) the community we knew as the DEN might be salvaged.

    Having also come from a 20-year business background, in addition to 16 years as an educator, I am dumbfounded at the apparent lack of a plan having already been in place prior to this recent action. I would have thought that a company seemingly so together as Discovery would have had a clear course of action ready to share with us, the DEN community. Those positions might have been saved if we could have had input. Teachers don’t need free pens, padfolios, lab coats, or t-shirts. Just like our students, we need – and want – personal attention. We want to develop support relationships with people we can get to know and trust. That sort of interaction happens in person – not via a Web site. Without the Field Managers, the DEN just becomes another pretty Web page with lots of contact information – but no personality! It may become just another entry in our long Favorites lists. We all may keep in touch, but the community – the family – is gone!

    One part of this mass dismissal that has not been discussed by the DEN leaders, or Discovery leadership, was in fact mentioned in the Washington Post article. It was stated that, “about half of the cuts were from the group’s Bethesda office…” I know that when I dealt with the Implementation folks, that’s where they were. Many of those hard-working people are looking for jobs now too. Who do we look to now for technical help with unitedstreaming? I know that many of our schools and districts are still struggling with the ongoing flaws in v3. Will they ever be fixed?

    As an investor in the Discovery Educator Network – Yes, I have invested my personal and professional resources and time in support of the DEN’s objectives – I firmly believe that I am due a forthright and complete explanation for this abrupt and severe move by whoever will claim responsibility for it. I will hope that as the seven remaining DEN leaders meet this week that they will work diligently on crafting just such an explanation. Nearly 20,000 DEN members, including 2,500 STAR DEN Educators and I, are waiting.

  86. Carol Anne McGuire said:

    Dear DEN,
    This came as a shock to all of us. As I read the blog, I am saddened, not just for our field managers, but for the DEN teachers. They are two kinds of sadness. Of course, we will greatly miss the staff and the sunshine they brought into our lives. We were so blessed to be able to work with them.
    I am also sad for the DEN teachers. In our sadness, we need to remember that the great things about DEN: our resources, connections, networking… US, …we have not been changed! WE are the DEN!
    Discovery Education is not going away. It’s changing. And change is hard… on everyone. Let’s wait to see what brilliant ideas they come up with and let them know how much we support those that are having to rebuild.
    I, for one, want the remaining team to know that I stand behind you 100%. DEN has been a good network, and I know that you will continue to do your best to see that that stays. I pray that as you regroup, you come up with new and exciting ideas and that you become energized again. We WILL make this work!
    WIth much hope for the future, and confidence in the Discovery Educator Network,
    Carol Anne

  87. Blair McMillen said:

    Hi Everyone,
    I was one of those Discovery Education employees who lost his job a week ago. I am no stranger to being laid off, and my energy at this time is being directed toward positive thoughts for those fellow employees who have family and mortgages depending on them. As I read this blog, I am glad to know that the teachers and DEN members who my fellow Implementation Reps worked with are as confused by this decision as we were.
    I was the internal end of things at Discovery for Jan Wee of Wisconsin and enjoyed meeting and working with not just the DEN members there, but also the Field Managers who worked very hard. I am truly going to miss those teachers and DEN members I worked with every day, and you all should be even more disappointed than I am – this was just a job for me at times. For you all, this is your passion, and my respect for educators has increased exponentially in the 9 months I worked with you.
    I also wanted to say that I hope Steve Sidel and those execs who chose additional profit over great advocates like you all read Christy M’s post to her dad.

    While my next position may very well not be involved in education or technology, I hope it is involved in working with dedicated people like you all.


  88. Sam T said:

    I was going to apply for the DEN after a great presentation of software integration with unitedstreaming by Danielle and then a DEN presentation. I had been hearing from other teachers in my district how wonderful the DEN treats them, always coming up with new ideas, sharing knowledge, and so forth. They felt that Discovery finally GOT IT and was one company that put education as a whole before the $$. Imagine my surprise when I turn to the blog to subscribe and see that there is a final message – not even from Danielle.
    You say the decision was made not easily or lightly. It was made hastily and abruptly, and I guess that’s where it hurts. Your total lack of respect for the customers and your employees amazes me.
    You say that this move will allow you to support your ONLINE community. The one thing that impessed me was that this was a nice hybrid community. I was informed of the various face to face events and trainings and while they were not often to be overwhelming, they were just enough to keep us interested and to remind us about what was available.
    When listening to Danielle spout out her calendar and trying to figure out when she could meet with the DEN again in my area, I was amazed that she could do so much. I was told that emails were returned daily. I was always hesitant to join such groups, but the face to face contact really impressed me to do so.
    Since she was the face of DEN in our area, it seemed almost personal that she could not write her own farewell. Another slap to your customers, DEN members and potential DEN members.
    Some of you say that you still support the DEN. I’ve never had the pleasure to meet the people left (although I heard plenty of wonderful things about Lance, Scott, Hall- you get a prize if you know of Hall and what he’s known for), was too new to really feel the total loss, but I do feel the slap in the face as a customer and an educator.
    To think that a company can just up and cancel on you, and it’s not because of financial decline, and you’re going to be okay with that? You’re going to still support the company that treats their employees and customers with such careless ideas? I for one am not. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I won’t be made a fool of when they totally yank this out from under you with no warning.

  89. Marci said:

    This is a tragic event. The DEN is people…not just the educator members, but the dedicated, personable, visible field managers. I can’t believe that a company that understands education and educators would cut off it’s own foot! I, for one, will have to think twice about continuing in such an environment!

  90. Joy Wolfe said:

    Sam, I don’t believe that the Discovery decision was a hasty one at all. I believe that, like most big companies, they have financial analysts working hard to assess the damage that such cuts would create. I also believe that they looked at the numbers and decided that those of us whom they would lose were an acceptable risk. It’s likely that they assessed their customers and that it’s the dedication and determination of teachers that they’re banking on. Many of us will prove them right. Each of us must decide what we’re willing to support.

    I find the whole “things change, and we must just keep doing what we’ve done before.” attitude astounding. What an amazingly simple way to ignore and to justify anything which transpires in our world. You could really apply that logic to any situation with a negative outcome, could you not?

  91. Donna Criswell said:

    Who did they assess? It certainly wasn’t any of us on these various blogs and discussion boards. And if we aren’t the group of CUSTOMERS to ask, the most active and passionate DEN/STAR members, I don’t know who they chose! During the previous regime I was often asked my opinion, beta-tested Cosmeo and other Discovery products, and was sought out for a variety of things.
    And I firmly believe that we should not take this lying down simply because we feel like we have no power, that it’s “corporate America” at it’s finest. We are a very powerful political base and we should always feel free, actually obligated, to express our thoughts and concerns. At least we should try!

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