I pledge allegiance to the DEN!

Posted on behalf of Cindy Dunagan

Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience.”  I choose to post for Open House Week because it was exactly one year ago that I attended my first DEN event and what an excellent adventure this last year has been.

On September 10, 2011 a Day of Discovery was hosted in Asheville, NC on the Biltmore Estate.  I was a new DEN member not sure what a Day of Discovery was but who can pass up free staff development.  The North Carolina leadership council team worked very hard to line up a wonderful agenda so we could delve deeper into the resources DE provides.  Dianne Ripollone shared the experience here.  I met talented professionals and learned some new techniques to bring to my school.  I left thinking, “wow, Discovery really cares and spends a lot of time and effort on educators”.

With this in mind, and having just received my new STAR packet, I excitedly spread the news at school, “You can be a STAR too!”  The timing for my excitement was fortuitous because my school system started a push to enlist more DEN members.  At my home school it was more about spreading the good news of Discovery Education during PLC meetings and having STARs starting to twinkle on each hall.  I have to admit though that I still thought of the DEN as a great place to read blogs and find out about resources and did not really realize what the Discovery Education team does and what being a DEN member meant.

At some point Matt Monjan and Kyle Schutt came to visit our school.  They were gathering information to make Discovery and the DEN more accessible and helpful.  They also shared their interest in building a student network.  I didn’t realize the scope of their interest until Discovery invited 30 students in grades 4th through 11th, their parents and teachers, for an exciting tour of Discovery headquarters in Silver Springs.  On the bus ride up children shared what they hoped for.  It was an AWESOME trip empowering students to build new relationships in order to grow this student network.  We look forward to fantastic initiatives from this group during the school year and beyond.

Meshed with this event was the opportunity to create a video in order to be selected for the DEN Summer Institute 2012 (DENSI2012).  I applied and hurriedly scanned each new weekly update to see if I had been selected.  The DEN Summer Institute is a week long completely free (with room & board included) educational conference.  You only have to provide your own transportation to get to the event.  I could not believe my luck when I got the email I was in! DENSI2012 is where I truly came to know what it is to be a DEN member.  The Discovery team, spearheaded by Porter Palmer, works tirelessly year round to provide a phenomenal line up of activities.  Working with the discovery team, leadership council, and other DEN members didn’t end with our sessions.  We were up late into the evenings sharing ideas, “geekery”, and creating content.  The official sessions are highlighted in my last few posts.  Many connections were made to extend our student’s and fellow teacher’s PLC’s as well.  The DEN now feels like a family.  Much like you can look to a parent or sibling, the DEN provides a huge family for advice, to share successes, and soundboard ideas.

I have pledged my allegiance to the DEN and will continue to shout from the rooftops how wonderful the community is because each individual is dedicated to buoying their peers, to collaborating across the globe, and I feel like I matter here.  If you have been lurking or have not had a chance to really get to know DEN members yet then let this be your call to action.  There is something here for everyone.  So to Mr. Holmes, I say, A moment’s DENsight is a life experience!


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