There are times in your life when you think, "How did I get here?" You look around and you are sort of amazed to find yourself standing where you are standing. Through mysteries I've no ability to fathom, I found myself standing inside a private wine-tasting room telling a room full of educators that they should take my course on technology.
If you don't know anything about Napa Learns, you should look it up -- especially if you live in Napa. They are an amazing organization that is supporting and encouraging innovative educational growth in our valley. I am currently working on my Master's not only as a result of their scholarship, but as a result of their relentless pursuit. "Do you want to earn your master's degree? Are you interested in technology?" The emails were constant, and I am proud/terrified/grateful that I responded. I told them for two semesters in a row that I was interested, but it is only now, the THIRD time, that I actually started. Their generous support makes earning my Master's degree LESS of a financial stretch. I really appreciate that.
But Napa Learns has done so much more for me than that. I was fortunate enough to ask to become a Digital Innovator. I teach three courses about incorporating technology into the classroom -- they are real, hands-on, practical classes for teachers all through the Valley -- and they are FREE to any teacher who wants to attend! This has pushed me to thoughtfully construct sessions that will encourage and empower more teachers to consider technology a tool, as common as a pencil to help support their instruction.
More than anything else though, Napa Learns has introduced me to some really amazing people. I mean, these teachers are wicked sharp. They are some of the smartest people I've ever met, and I often wonder how I ended up in the same room. I love listening to them talk — especially when they are dissecting a problem and trying to work it all out. The brain power when they gather together is something to behold. It is the kind of power that can light a city.
And if you think about, lighting a city is the entire point of Napa Learns. They are empowering teachers, who can, in turn, empower their students. This can cause a seismic shift in a community. Teachers who are encouraged to find innovate ways to teach, then take those innovations into the classroom. As students are exposed to these new ways of thinking and problem solving, then begin to build their own innovative approaches to learning and problem-solving and the whole process expands outword -- building an ever expanding world of learning and thinking. Our community begins to growth at an exponential level. Our landscape becomes an endless forest of trees that grow up strong, yet pliable enough to bend low, and plant more saplings that repeat the process on and on and on; a vast forest of hope.
The Torah teaches "When you save one man, you save the whole world entire" and so I guess it is simply history repeating itself to say that if you encourage one educator to grow, the whole community grows with them.