This Little Light of Mine: What Community Means to Me

We’ve been talking a lot about community in our team planning calls and meetings. This is a good thing since our team is the Learning Communities Team at Discovery Education. One of the things we realized is that community means something a little different to each of us. Our own personal stories impact that meaning. You’ve heard from Lance already that choosing a community is like choosing a doughnut. We thought this year we’d each take a little time to tell you what community means to us. I’ll start.

Here’s what community means to me.

For about as far back as I can remember, I wanted to teach. Not only did I want to teach, I wanted to teach kids with the most significant disabilities. These students represent about 1% of the entire school population, so to say that I was in a specialized field is an understatement. Here’s a view of where I taught my last year in the classroom.


See that red circle? That’s where all the classrooms in the school were.

See the red X over there on the other side of the gym? That’s where my classroom was. Don’t get me wrong, I was in a room that had all of the equipment that I needed. My students were not purposefully being slighted or anything, but we were isolated.



I was the only teacher in the district working with those types of students.


2015-01-29_17-14-43I was however teaching the kids I had always dreamed of teaching. I was like a little tea light candle, and singing “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!”  I loved those kids and loved teaching them. I was passionate about teaching and about learning.

But I was alone.

I was a single solitary light.

During my career in the classroom, I met many other teachers who loved what they were doing. They loved their students and loved teaching. I always picked them to be my friends. I wanted to surround myself with light. There were some teachers whose candle had burned out. I know it wasn’t everyday, but somedays I felt like I was the only one excited about what I was doing. Do you have days like that?

2015-01-29_17-25-27I bet you that you have. We’ve all met teachers whose light and passion have been extinguished. Do you ever feel like you are the only person you know who still is letting their little light of passion for teaching and learning shine?

There were days I knew I was the only one.

Teaching is a tough job.

To be our best, we have to find other lights out there shining brightly. That’s really what I see community as. Our mission, Connecting educators to their most valuable resource, each other really means that my job is to help you find other people who are out there shining their lights.

Sometimes my job is to provide that extra spark that you need to keep your candle lit.


Here’s the promise that I will make to you.2015-01-29_17-31-28 On your dark days when you feel just a flicker remaining reach out to me or to anybody you know in your Discovery Education Community. There are candles lit all over the world (figuratively, of course) to help reignite you or to stand with you and help light up the room.

You are not a lone isolated candle, even if you are on the other side of the gym like my classroom was.

We have each other.

Sing it with me now, “This little light of mine…”



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  1. Dave Tchozewski said:

    My light was staring to flicker a bit this week. That is when I made the slideshow that I posted on Facebook. I needed a steadier flame. My DE friends provided that for me, and, apparently quite a few others as the comments indicated.

    Keep shining!

  2. Ms. De Santis said:

    I keep a candle on my desk to remind me to be a light for my students- now I will think of your post/thoughts as well.

  3. Karen Wells said:

    So true – My DEN community members are the first ones I go to for professional help and encouragement. There is always someone to provide the perfect advice or help lift me up.

  4. CLykowski said:

    My light has been nearly blown out this year and just about every corner I turn, there has been a DEN family member relighting my candle and bringing me comfort and joy. They remind me why I am here and why I do the things I do. My faith in my DEN family has never wavered, and if it did I’m sure there would be a DEN crew to throw me a few life preservers!

  5. Liz Charlton said:

    oh Porter, this was beautiful. It is amazing…wait DENmazing how much joy, knowledge, laughter and love Discovery Education has brought into my life. More people should be this lucky!

  6. Max said:

    Princess! Thank you for this post! I love the work Discovery does to help keep so many lights shining. I hope all educators continue to shine so that the future for our children will be bright!

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