Last night I was honored to receive the 2008 USDLA International Distance Learning Award for Outstanding Leadership by an Individual in the Field of Distance Learning. Since many deserving people also received awards last night, there was not time to thank those who have contributed to my growth and learning.
First I’d like to thank Polycom, especially Russ Colbert and Elaine Shuck for nominating me for this award. Not only that, but for funding some of my projects and ideas: our VC Program Database linked on TWICE and Polycom., TWICE’s Read Around the Planet, and the new TWICE Collaborations Around the Planet site. I appreciate very much the support and promotion of my ideas and projects by Polycom.
Thank you especially to Jim Bembenek, who hired me at the Berrien County ISD in 1997 as an Instructional Technologist. He saw potential in me and provided so many opportunities for growth and learning. I remember when he said I should go to a meeting to “increase my statewide presence.” I didn’t even know what that meant! Then Jim had this vision for a videoconferencing network for our service area. I didn’t understand what it meant, but he convinced me to move into a newly created position to support videoconferencing. That first year he did the technical connections and I worked on the curriculum side. I remember watching with heart pounding as each ISDN line connected. We had this joke that the videoconference would connect if we ate chocolate while we were connecting. Thank you to Jim and the ISD for providing a work environment where I can excel and make my ideas happen.
It was Jim Bembenek, Sue Porter, and Connie Solis who thought we should have a videoconferencing organization in Michigan. We met in a restaurant and discussed how we could start TWICE. Just a few months later Sue and I started the videoconference celebration of Read Across America for TWICE. Sue taught me so much as we started our distance learning program, including the paper towel demonstration of how video and audio are compressed! Thank you, Sue, for all that you’ve taught me and shared with me!
When TWICE got started, I met Arnie Comer, distance learning manager at Macomb ISD. Arnie taught me about the ASK program started by Jim Wenzloff at their ISD. Arnie shared a few ASK programs with me and then he and Jim helped me get my own ASK programs going. Thank you, Arnie, for bridging connections for me that I couldn’t get to work on my bridge, and teaching me so much about best practice in videoconferencing!
Thank you to Bennie Tschoerner and Ken Conn, who took PICC, dreamed up Jazz, and “dragged” me into it. I wasn’t sure at all about the project at the first, but it’s been an incredible annual experience and provided opportunities for networking with so many people.
Thank you to Roxanne Glaser, for teaching me so much about best practice and underlying theory of our projects! You’ve contributed so much to my understanding of best practice and the constructivist principles underlying great videoconferences.
Thank you to Danny Maas, who wrote one of the supporting documents for my nomination. I really appreciate the opportunities and connections that came from presenting at the Broadband Summer Institute. Thank you to all the Albertans who have participated in videoconferences with my schools!
Thank you to all my local coordinators and teachers, without whom we wouldn’t have a successful videoconferencing program. Each of you have worked so hard to bring engaging learning experiences to our students in Berrien and Cass counties. I appreciate your time and effort!
Thank you to Congressman Fred Upton, for his support of our distance learning program and advocacy of the USDA DLT RUS grant and the e-rate program. Your vision for students in our area has helped create great learning experiences and opportunities. I appreciate your support of distance learning in our counties and nationally.
Finally, I thank God for providing opportunities and blessings so that I can do my work. I give Him the glory for what I’ve accomplished, for without Him I can do nothing.