Stripping Down Layers— My #OVAcademy Story

This post was originally posted the EdTechTeam blog on December 19, 2017 located here.

I’ve been blessed to have had so many amazing opportunities in my life. Right place — right time…..a higher power looking out for me…..whatever it is, I am eternally grateful. Participating in the Our Voice Academy was another example of a truly amazing opportunity and experience.

When I received the email, I was extremely honored but had no idea what the experience would entail. Immediately I thought, this will be a great way to extend my tribe and meet people to add to my PLN and if something else comes of it — so be it. I now look back at my 41 year old self (the email came 11 days before my birthday 😉) and laugh. I obviously had no idea what I was about to face.

I’ve always been placed in situations where I am called to serve in a leadership capacity. I see myself as a servant leader; always willing to assist, support, and develop. My life’s mission is to help someone become a little bit better than they are — because in turn I become a little bit better, too.

While interviewing for my current job, I was asked “How will you tell our story” — and that question became the driving force behind what I’ve done for the past three years. To tell my school district’s story and work to improve upon the teaching and learning here; so that our story becomes even more powerful than we imagined. And so, for the past three years, I’ve talked about the amazing things that we’ve done to enhance teaching and learning in my district. And in the upcoming weeks before OVAcademy, that’s exactly the story I had planned to tell. But you know what the say about making plans……

In those upcoming days before the academy, I struggled with the organization of my story that focused on student creators and how technology serves as an equalizer. Looking back now, I realize that the reason this story (a story that I’ve told and shared numerous times in numerous ways) was such a struggle was because it was not the story I needed to tell.

The activities that we participated in at the academy challenged me to go back to the foundation of me — my overwhelming belief that relationships are the foundation to everything. “The Power of Relationships” is definitely my fundamental belief….but it’s not as easy a story to tell as “transforming teaching and learning”. Telling the stories of relationships can force you to run the gamut of emotions — laughter, anger, fear, joy, and despair. And I am not comfortable sharing my vulnerability with others. I’m the strong one; the one whose head YOU can put YOUR shoulder on; the one who listens and advises. I’m a fixer — a problem solver and I don’t like not feeling confident about my choices or my actions.

So so so many times I wanted to go back to what was safe; but I did what I tell everyone else to do — work through the uncomfortableness. I told one of my most devastating stories about a former student whom I adore who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and got a wrong deal. The story that 17 years later still makes me cry. I was SO uncomfortable with this story; what I decided to tell; how I decided to tell it; yet, I received nothing but support and encouragement throughout the entire process.  In this space, I could be me – unsure, vulnerable me that only a few people get to see and no one would think differently of me because of it.  It was unbelievably freeing.

My Practice Keynote Experience!


This experience was one of the most life impacting experiences in my life. Hands down one of the best professional development experiences I’ve ever been a part of. Let me tell you something — the men and women who took us through this process know their *you know what*! I am so thankful for Jennie Magiera acknowledging this need and taking the risk on her dream — this project; and the willingness of Ken Shelton, Monica Martinez and my homegirl Sarah Thomas to dedicate so much of their time, knowledge, and effort; because they so clearly understand my struggles – as my struggles are their struggles.

So in a way, I was right…… I extended my tribe and grew my PLN…..all of that, but so much more! In my struggles and uncomfortableness I experienced a success beyond imagination. I am forever changed.

The Crew!



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