DENSI 2014: Day 1 Recap

My little DEN Star!

My little DEN Star!

So, this is my 2nd year at DEN, and what a different experience I have had so far. Last year I came in early for the leadership council preconference, was well rested, and super organized. This year, on the other hand, has been so different. I had to miss the precon because of a wedding on Saturday afternoon. To make it to DENSI in time and to make the trip easier on our little one, my husband and I drove overnight from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and arrived in Nashville at around 5 am this morning. To say the least, it was a hectic day, I’m exhausted already, and I’m a bit weepy. Tonight is my first night away from the littlest DEN star, my 8 month old little girl, Charlotte, or as many of you may know her, “Peach”.  She’s just a few minutes away at the hotel with her daddy, so I’m going to do my best to put on my big girl pants and make the best of it! Even WITH all the chaos, I am so happy to be with my DEN friends and get to share in such an amazing week! The fact that I’m giving up some of my precious summer baby time to hang out with all these crazies should be an indicator of how awesome the DEN really is!

So, for those of you #NotatDENSI, and maybe some of you who #AreatDENSI who want to reflect on the day, here are some of the highlights and my thoughts from today:


As per tradition, DENSI2014 began with BBQ, not A BBQ, but real, Southern BBQ! After living in South Carolina for a few years, there are few things that I miss more than real BBQ and sweet tea, and we were treated to both tonight! Thanks to Jim ‘n Nicks for such an awesome dinner! ( We also got to exchange gifts! Thanks Karen Zilhaver, for all the goodies…and good luck finding the missing kazoo!

From @DiscoveryEd


If you’re part of the #NotatDENSI crowd, I’m sorry. You really missed out on a great start to the institute with Discovery producer Greg Siers (@wisemanwisdom). In his opening remarks, Greg talked about his childhood and his career in film. I was especially touched by how he was allowed and encouraged to develop his interests in what he was passionate about as a child. In our data-driven world, I think that the personal interests of our students can get overlooked quite easily. Even more touching, was how being allowed to be unique and develop as an individual can be so tough for children as they grow up. I think there were a lot of lessons to be learned from Greg, but what I took away was a valuable reminder of how important it is to foster creativity and passion in our students. What did you get from Greg’s speech?

From ?@BSGSCSFoster


As always, Porter kept everyone in line and has made sure that we’re all on track! In addition, the DEN finger was awarded tonight! For those of you that aren’t familiar, getting “the finger” is a good thing! It means that you went above and beyond! Tonight’s recipient made countless trips to the airport, acting as a taxi to the incoming DEN members. Congratulations Matt Graves!

From Matt Graves

From Matt Graves

We also had our first team meetings, and Team Carp, headed by Tracy Carpenter, is kind of the best! I’m so excited to work with these stars this week! And thanks for the goodies, Tracy!

From Sandi Dennis

From Sandi Dennis

Now, I’m off to bed! We have an exciting day of adventures tomorrow as we are off to see the sights of Music City!


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