One of the fhe first things I did after becoming a STAR was apply to the DEN Summer Institute in Boston and to my surprise I was accepted. I was so excited, honored, and nervous about attending. Then three days before I was to leave my Father ended up in hospital with mysterious intestinal bleeding, which later was to discovered to be cancer (fully recovered now). I remember running to the hospital to visit him the morning I left and feeling guilty for leaving. However, my family insisted I go and the nurses promised to give me updates over the phone. Although, my first institute was full of many highlights it was a bit tough those first several days until my father was out of the hospital. With that said, I tend to work a bit like a Crock-Pot and it takes me awhile to warm up in any new situation and at first I come off a bit standoffish. So when I applied the next two summers and wasn’t accepted I honestly thought I blew it.
Still, I knew I somehow I needed to be more connected to the DEN, because just being in contact with these people was making me a better teacher. I continued to attend Days of Discovery and webinars, but I still felt I needed more. So in the spring of 2012, I decided to apply to be part of the Leader Council (LC) and was accepted onto the Social Media Team. About this same time, I learned that I had also won ISTE/SIGOL- Highly Commended Online Learning Award and would be presenting at ISTE. This was my first ISTE and as I headed to San Diego by myself I prayed I would not spend the whole week alone. That statement now seems almost comical, because I wasn’t even there twenty-four hours until those online DEN connections became very real. I volunteered to take over the DEN Twitter and Facebook feeds for Discovery Pre-conference. I was a bit nervous about it all because, I had never used Hootsuite before and I am Dyslexic. However, I felt that jumping in was what I needed to do to be more connected and I am so glad I did. I already knew Carol Anne McGuire through DENSI Boston (and three rounds of Rock Our World) and she along with daughter Macy were the first two faces I recognized. Honestly, the California DEN went out of there way to make sure everyone felt welcome at The Pre-Con and at ISTE. I just remember the DEN being a huge part of that week and feeling lucky to have met some of these people. After the having a great time during an evening out with Discovery, that Jannita organized, Katie Warren asking me if she would see me at DENSI Montana and I sadly had to tell her that I had not been accepted. Actually, I told her that I indeed had not been accepted the last two year and that I thought I was done applying. I did go on to say that I knew I needed the DEN and that I would just be involved in other ways. We spoke for awhile and then she made me promise that I would not give up and I would indeed apply in 2013. At that point, I was tired and wasn’t sure what I would do. However. it was sure nice to have someone want me to apply again.
Then last spring when the DENSI 2013 application information hit Social Media and had come out through Discovery Education’s emails I ignored it at first. Just wasn’t sure I had it in me to again apply and not be accepted a third time. Then I remembered the promise I made to Katie and with the application being a one take video I figured this wouldn’t take long. Plus, due my experience at ISTE and serving on the Leadership Council for a year I really did feel like I had a better idea about what the DEN was really about with my application on You Tube might help spread the word about the DEN. Once my application was turned in I did not think too much about it and just figured I had fulfilled my promise to Katie. Unlike the two years before, I was not waiting impatiently for the weekly DEN Insider to see if I made the cut. In fact, I was sort of avoiding Twitter and Facebook late on Friday afternoon to shield myself from all the DENSI chatter. Then for some reason one Friday afternoon in late March I began to get pings coming through on my phone and when I checked there were several post on Facebook and Twitter in which I was tagged. That was when I decided to check my email for The DEN Weekly Update and saw that my name was on “THE LIST”. Seriously, you could not wipe the smile off my face for weeks and I also vowed then in there to make the most of this experience. I would go early, stay late, and meet as many people as possible. So in May when Dacia Jones put out on Edmodo about flying up a couple of days early and staying at the Von Trapp Family Lodge I jumped in with both feet. It did not matter that I did not know Dacia Jones or anyone else that was joining us, because after my California experience I realized that all I needed to know is that they were part of the DEN. Since then these women have become an important part of my world and I refer to them as my “Hills Are Alive Buddies”.
Anyway, DENSI and LC Pre-Con were nothing short of AMAZING! I remember searching at dinner on the first night of the LC Pre-Con for Katie Warren and giving her a big hug. I am pretty sure I teared up when I thanked her for making me promise to apply again.