Sunday, February 16, 2014

Eric Williams

Dr. Eric Williams is the superintendent of the York County School Division in Yorktown, VA.

After ten years of teaching I found myself burning out--losing that fire to be in the classroom. Thank goodness I found Twitter and a PLN to rekindle my passion for teaching and learning! I am honored to have Dr. Williams as part of my PLN-- he helps me believe what I do in the classroom every day matters. Thank you Dr. Williams for being “real”, for being connected, for being a learner, and for pushing my thinking.

It is not every day you find a superintendent willing to connect with teachers.  Dr Williams maintains an open line of communication and an open door policy. He takes the time to visit classrooms and wants to share in the enthusiasm of a learning environment.  His progressive vision has steered our division towards transformative and project based learning. I know I am in the right division because of his support of student creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking. We are not a division stressed out over data and test scores...and for that I am grateful.

I am also grateful for Dr. Williams’ presence on Twitter. He clearly wants to be part of online learning alongside a global platform of educators. It is not out of the norm to find him in a Twitter education chat over the weekend, and he will readily jump into the conversation with ideas and reflections. He truly “levels the playing field” as he keeps his finger on the pulse of what is working for teachers, students, classrooms, school buildings, and other districts around the world. He quite simply gets the need to be a connected learner.

Thank you Dr. Williams!

This letter of gratitude was written by Jill Barnes.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Lucky to Have a Friend Like You

Dena Budrecki: media specialist, technology goddess, passionate educator, colleague, friend. Where do I even begin to express my appreciation for her?  

It is rare to find that colleague who matches you step for step, answers your questions with more questions, and just challenges you daily to be your best. Dena does that for me. I’ve been at this teaching thing for a long time (26 years), but I am still learning, still growing. I appreciate that Dena is right there with me.  

When I am looking for ideas for a lesson, Dena is there with links, apps, and just awesome teaching tips. She isn’t afraid to throw a lot of things at me, knowing that we can sift through and pick out the best things.

When I am excited about something I have read for one of my doctoral classes, I know I can share it with her, and I get real conversation not just the polite head nod.

When I am frustrated because something doesn’t go as planned, I can complain, but then Dena helps me figure out the ‘So what’ I need to move forward.

When I have an idea but need a co-conspirator, Dena’s right there, too (and I return the favor). Together we have accomplished some good things this year (reviving the Sunshine club at school, writing a weekly digital citizenship blog).

When I am grappling with a new idea or trying to assimilate what I have always done with what I need to change, Dena is there asking tough questions.

When I need an opinion on something I’ve written (blog post, letter to parent, email to one of my kids’ teachers), I can count on Dena to give honest feedback.

When I doubt myself, Dena is there to remind me of what I have accomplished and to encourage me to step outside my comfort zone.

And it doesn’t stop when the bell rings at the end of the day. Dena is my summer walking partner (yes, we still end up talking about school), she is a great dinner companion (especially when she sees I’m feeling down), and she worries about me when I’m off at class and the weather conditions aren’t the best (she calls and tells me to drive carefully).

I am blessed to have such a friend. Thanks, Dena. :-) 

Looking forward to the next big adventure,


This post of appreciation is written by Jennifer Marten.