DAY 5: National Teacher Appreciation Day #Edblogaday #edtech
Yesterday I had the great pleasure of taking for of.our students to the 2015 TechCrunch Disrupt NYC Conference (hackathon, expo, competition, speakers...). After listening to the opening remarks and Fireside chat with Fred Wilson a good friend and supporter of our school as well as advocate for CS education in K-12, we took the kids down to the Start Up Alley with instructions to meet, network, ask questions and learn all they could. They just had to stay in the space and we would meet up to debrief in 90 minutes. This also meant that I got to wonder through, introduce myself to companies that I thought might work well within the classroom or that I had heard wonderful things about I was excited to meet like Black Girls Code. There were also some great discoveries and inspiring moments. I stopped to talk with Shaun Tai of Oakland Digital, something I personally, would love to see spread across the country. However, the question they were asking everyone was: What was the BRIDGE to your career? I said, "Great Mentors."
Great mentors are one piece of my journey to my own classroom. The most pivotal mentor in my life and career has been Ruben Van Kempen more affectionately known to his students as VK. Ruben was my high school drama teacher. All us drama kids have a VK. Ruben believed in me as a teenager, empowered me to become a leader, trusted me with responsibility and was always kind to me. The tools and experiences I had as a high school student laid the foundation for all the twists and turns in the road that would come. A professional career in theatre after college, then as I transitioned to a new career as teacher of both theatre and English.
VK is retiring this year after 38 years of teaching. He has an amazing legacy and a career to learn from. He continues to be my mentor and friend 25 years after we first met in the halls of Roosevelt High School. This is the power of teachers, of teaching and there aren't enough thank you's in the world to ever truly thank Ruben. He changed my life and I am a better person for having him as my teacher.
This Teacher Appreciation Week, thank a teacher- even you teachers, thank someone who has helped you to become better at your craft, has influenced you and has been the BRIDGE to your career.