And You May Ask Yourself Well…How Did I Get Here?

The lyrics are from a song by the Talking Heads titled Once in a Lifetime…. They describe my thoughts as I over pack and unpack (an obsessive compulsion I have had for a lifetime) in preparation for the Microsoft in Education E2 Global Educator Exchange. Thinking back to last June when I attended my 2nd Microsoft Innovative Educator certification workshop where my tech twin, @fredawilliams and I were introduced to 21st Century Learning Design. Josh Sawyer was the lead trainer and did an enthusiastic job of challenging everyone with new material, rubrics and a sneak peek at some new Microsoft tools.

July brought ISTE to Atlanta, and we became Microsoft stalkers, attending every session they presented and meeting Kelly Green, Helen Gooch and Kelli Etheredge.  Office Mix, OneNote, Office 365 and more. We began to plan our 2014-2015 school year. August brought a Microsoft teacher workshop to Atlanta where we were officially identified as groupies, met Robyn Hrivnatz and saw our first glimpse of SWAY. (Oh how this right brain girl loved the concept of SWAY!)

The school year began with intensive training on our newly adopted Office 365IMG_7238 to staff and students, our first 1-1 initiative in a new middle school, more training and plans to certify an entire 78 member staff at Holly Springs Elementary Stem Academy. After achieving the Microsoft Innovative Educator trainer status and a little nudge and encouragement from a friend (RH :),) I submitted the application to become a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert. Notification that I had been selected came early November while I was presenting at the GaETC conference on Office 365 in the Classroom and so began an entirely unexpected and wonderful journey.

This year marked my 15th year working with the Cherokee County School District as a Technology Project Specialist. This role includes researching new and emerging technologies, training teachers on new tools and integration in the classroom, training students, evaluating hardware and other duties as assigned. The MIEE path was energizing. Attending and listening to each monthly webinar, beginning to blog again, stopped lurking and started tweeting, trained and trained and trained. Communicating with program managers, resolving challenges in our district, receiving a Surface Pro 3, establishing an entirely new PLN becoming a part of the Surface Expert team, and Sway Champion was just part of what made the experience so amazing. Applying to the E2
Global Educator Exchange, presenting the year in two minutes was a challenge but a reminder that this was a year of growth.
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Meanwhile, we graduated our first professional development class of certified MIE’s as the process of certifying the school continued. Changes started almost immediately from the top down, the administrators started using OneNote, students used Office 365 to collaborate with each other, teachers starting Mixing and Skyping, first graders learned to Sway and everyone learned the definition of BING!! Each session introduced a new learning dimension and Microsoft tool which would inevitably lead to someone trying it in their classroom! Late February led us to the culmination of all of the hard work. Holly Springs Elementary STEM Academy became fully certified as Microsoft Innovative Educators!

Early March brought the email that I could hardly believe. I had been selected to attend E2… What?!   This recognition also had a personal side to it. Shortly after being selected as an MIEE my father was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. He was so proud of me and even though this was a man who worked with his hands and had no interest in technology, he loved hearing my stories and watching videos of the students in my school. He approved my application video and watched it several times. I received the email that I had been selected to attend E2 sitting by my fathers bedside and he was the first person I shared it with… Sadly, he passed away on March 30th. I’m so thankful to have had the legacy of a strong work ethic, integrity, character and his encouragement and support throughout my lifetime and hope to represent him well.

This journey has just begun in many ways, learning so much, being in awe of what fellow educators are doing in their schools, following new friends around the globe through our Facebook group, the presentations, the tweets and meets, blog posts and messages. The support offered by Robyn through this entire process has been so appreciated and is something I hope to pass on to others who find themselves blessed enough to be identified with such a talented and incredible group of individuals who are passionate about students.

It is with great excitement and anticipation that I prepare for E2, but as my husband said, this is the icing on the cake. Once in a lifetime….
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