Community Member of the Week: Rita Mortenson

Rita is the High School Educational Technology Coordinator for Verona Area School District in Wisconsin. She has used Discovery Education for the past 10 years. Rita shares, “Being a member of the DEN has been one of the most beneficial and life changing experiences of my life. The professional development, friendships and inspiration I get from the DEN organization and the members is incredible. I can honestly say I would not be the teacher I am today without being a member of the DEN.”

What is one of your favorite ways to use Discovery Education?
I love to show the power and potential that digital media can have in the classroom. When students are able to experience through a video things that they otherwise would not be able to ever see, it is incredible. I love so many of the videos and teacher guides that go along with the videos. Many of my favorite ones I used with teachers are the North America series. They are so beautifpd-den-6ully done!

How are you involved in education other than your official role as a K-12 educator?
I am a mentor at our school, department chair, site council rep, personalized learning coach and more! I am also the Homecoming Coordinator, Blood Drive Coordinator and do a few other odds and ends. 🙂

Why did you become a teacher?
I became a teacher because I love working with others and helping learners discover new possibilities. I think being a teacher is so incredibly rewarding. I learn new things every day and I am so excited to learn. I want all my students to have this experience and know that they can reach the dreams and goals they set for themselves.

What advice do you have for first-year teachers?
Be sure to enjoy the little things each day and have fun! The time goes by quickly and you have the potential to make such an impact on so many lives…it is really rewarding and humbling. Listen with your heart, always look at things from another person’s perspective, and don’t be afraid to try new things and take risks.

What other organizations/groups are you a part of?
Google Certified Educator
Apple Distinguished Educator
National Board Certified Teacher
Member of ISTE, WEMTA (Wisconsin Educational Media & Technology Association)
I have an MBA Degree


How do you start your day?

Each day I start pretty early. I usually arrive by 6:15 a.m. and unlock the doors to many rooms and labs. Then I enjoy some quiet time getting caught up on emails, etc. I am always excited to start the day. I have to admit a few times during Homecoming Week (as I am the coordinator), I get to school by 5:00 a.m.

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What is your most memorable experience with the DEN?

I think one of my most memorable was the first time I attended a Regional Institute in Chicago. I remember Jannita Demian was one of the first individuals I meet. She made the event so fun and festive. It was like I was attending a party. The tables were decorated, balloons, banners and more…just like our DEN Summer Institutes. I had never experienced anything that was so fun and festive like that before…at least not for professional development. I still have some of the table favors in my office today. I thought to myself, if I can help others feel this way then I want to do that for all of my professional development trainings. So, I try to do just that!

When you’re not working, where are we most likely to find you?
I love to swim for a good work out. I usually swim 1.5 hours at our school pool. It is so nice to have such a nice facility close by and accessible. When I am not swimming, I love to watch a good mystery and, of course I love to spend time with my awesome husband Craig.

What sites do you visit daily or weekly for your own interests (non-education)?
I follow a lot of great DEN friends on twitter and facebook.

What is your favorite kind of donut?
Caramel Glazed Donut

How can others connect with you?
@mortensonr (twitter), RitaMortenson.com (website), Rita Mortenson (facebook)

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