Reflections of a DEN Mom: Coni Rechner

I vividly remember being at a Cub’s game in Wrigley field close to 10 years ago, admiring the energy, passion and support for our beloved Chicago Cubs. I thought to myself at that moment “how powerful would it be if our Discovery Educator Network (DEN) community could one day be large enough to fill the seats in this stadium?” Little did I know that 10 years later I would be writing this blog post, celebrating our birthday and reflecting on the fact that our DEN Community is more than 3 times the size of a professional baseball stadium. What a humbling reflection!

As the appointed “DEN Mom”, I am incredibly proud of our community, the meaningful connections we’ve established and the impact we’ve had on millions of teachers and students around the world.

I’ll never forget the ISTE Conference in 2005 when we launched the DEN with 10 of our most passionate teacher users of Discovery Education streaming. Author Jackie Huba inspired us to build a community that was galvanized and directed by its members. When we asked our 10 inaugural members what they wanted in a community, the answer was clear. They wanted to connect with like-minded educators. We have kept this purpose as the heartbeat of our community for over a decade and remind ourselves of our mission everyday.

One of my favorite examples was a recent Facebook post from a teacher in the Midwest requesting classrooms from other parts of the country to Skype with her students and share details about their local geography and culture. Within 14 minutes, more then five classrooms responded to participate. What an amazing lifeline to the world for students in DEN educator classrooms.

I am grateful for our internal team that were the original architects and builders of DEN: Scott Kinney, Hall Davidson, Lance Rougeux, Jannita Demian and Steve Dembo and special shout out to alumni Betsy Whalen. Thank you to the DEN Managers, DEN STARS, DEN Guru’s, DEN Leadership Councils, Porter Palmer, Dean Shareski, Emily Murn and everyone who has contributed to the reach and impact of this powerful community. These talented individuals have been the heart and soul of Discovery Education ensuring that the educator voice is the North Star for everything we do.

I love the education world for many reasons, both as a mother of three children and a professional that has dedicated 20+ years to this industry as a servant leader. However, the number one reason I love education is because of amazing educators like you. Your devotion to your craft, commitment to your students and your unwavering passion to bettering the world we live in inspires me each and everyday.

Happy Birthday DEN and congratulations for the connections, the support, the lifelong relationships and bringing the world to our classrooms!

Coni Rechner
“DEN Mom”


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  1. Lindsay Foster said:

    And thank YOU for having the vision to create this community. It serves not only as an incredible resource for its members, it also serves as a lifeline. For many of us, it is an extension of our own families.

  2. JACKIE HUBA said:

    So honored to be part of the DEN story. Thank you for the opportunity to help start this community and I’m so proud of everyone who has made it the vibrant, amazing group that it is today. Happy birthday to the DEN and congrats to everyone involved!!

  3. Betsy Whalen said:

    Awww – thanks for the shoutout. Launching the DEN with you is my most proud achievement and my colleagues from Discovery are some of my closest friends. Such a great post!:)

  4. Betsy Whalen said:

    PS whenever i have a big work project that seems overwhelming, I think of that night we were driving in Bethesda after our our first big DEN planning meeting – – we stopped at a light and you looked at me and said “holy [smokes], how are we ever going to get 1,000 people to join this by the end of the school year”. It seemed so insurmountable at the time that we burst out laughing for about an hour and then went and had margaritas (for medicinal purposes).

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