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Archive for April, 2009

On Tuesday, April 7, 2009,  Foster’s Daily Democrat published an article about the Maine Learning Technology Initiative one-to-one laptop program being expanded to include high schools. Right now, this outstanding program is nearing the end of its second four-year term for all 7th and 8th graders in the State of Maine.

After conversations with Seymour Papert, the developer of Logo programming language, Governor Angus King envisioned a major transformation in education that would happen only when student and teachers worked with technology on a one-to-one basis.

I was privileged to be part of that program from its very beginning. Shapleigh Middle School was one of nine pilot schools in the State that got two class sets of laptops in the spring of 2002 before the full roll out for 7th graders that fall. 8th graders would get their machines the following year. Governor King actually launched the program from Shapleigh and told the kids, “the world will be watching.”

And the world did. Over the years, not only was Greg Goodness, the school’s principal at the time, flown to Apple headquarters in California to meet with representatives from other states considering such a program; but we had visitors on a regular basis including a contingent from the only English-speaking district in Quebec and another group from France that included the Minister of Education.

Why do I mention this at all in my blog? Well, it’s very simple. Reading that article brought back a lot of emotions for me. I was the integrator and tech lead for the program (officially called a Computer Technologist) when my position was eliminated last June. For six of the 16 years I was employed in Kittery, my days were surrounded by Macintosh iBooks, working with individual or small groups of kids as needed, working with colleagues to either improve their skills or demonstrate for their classes, assisting the office in solving data base or software and hardware issues, and working side by side with an incredible group of professionals on a day-to-day basis. I loved my job and looked forward to each day. In fact, while my contract included ten additional working days because of all the hardware needs during the summer, most of the time I was on campus at least twice that.

Seymour and the Governor were right! Education in many ways was transformed. Students became more accountable for their own work, were engaged in authentic projects that were challenging and creative, questions that would have taken hours after school to answer took a few moments on the internet, students developed abilities to demonstrate their learning to rooms full of adults and peers; and a recent study showed that students across all socio-economic levels improved their writing skills when the entire process was done on a computer rather than just “typing up” the finished copy.

I miss my involvement as part of that particular team which made huge changes in the lives of the kids we served. But I am ready for the next opportunity. I wonder where it will be?

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I have mentioned in other blogs that I view my unemployment experience as part of my spiritual journey. It can either make me a stronger person, more in tune with myself, my relationships with others, and my relationship with God; or it can serve to defeat my spirit and adversely affect all aspects of my life. I chose to stand in the former.

For many years, I have used The Upper Room as part of my devotional practice. Interestingly, on March 27, the day my interview with Harry Smith and Susan Koeppen on CBS News The Early Show aired, the Scripture was from Ecclesiastes 3 – “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Some of you are probably more familiar with those words as they were used in a song written by Pete Seeger and later sung by The Byrds in the 60s.

The author of this particular devotion, Judith Krum from Vermont, says, “All of us face choices that offer us the opportunity for a new perspective on life. Things work out differently than we anticipated. Unexpected events come seemingly from ‘out of the blue.’

As you know, my selection by CBS came “out of the blue,” and I am firmly convinced that this experience and my unemployment are both for a “season” that I am hoping is going to end soon. Interesting coincidence, don’t you think?

I’ve also shared that often I wake up with a hymn or praise chorus in my head. For the last couple of weeks, it has been, ”Praise the name of Jesus. Praise the name of Jesus. He’s my rock; he’s my fortress; he’s my deliverer. In him will I trust. Praise the name of Jesus,” words that offer me comfort and hope.

Friday, April 3, found me heading down to a brown bag lunch at the Women’s Business Center of Portsmouth of which I am a member. It was an opportunity to mingle with other Seacoast area women and make some new contacts.

My husband Bob, who refers to himself as “my agent,” had a feeling that I was going to get a job that day. Well, I actually got two phone calls, one for a one-week project with a local testing service and one for an interview for the job I mentioned on air. Wish me luck on the interview!

I also received a thinking-of-you card from a good friend. In it she wrote that I should not forget the words of Isaiah 41:10 – “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Funny thing, when I woke up Friday and again this morning, I had a new song in my head. This one written by Brian Wren is called, “This Is a Day of New Beginnings.”

This Is A Day Of New Beginnings

This is a day of new beginnings, time to remember and move on, time to believe what love is bringing, laying to rest the pain that’s gone.

For by the life and death of Jesus, love’s mighty Spirit, now as then, can make for us a world of difference, as faith and hope are born again.

Then let us, with the Spirit’s daring, step from the past and leave behind our disappointment, guilt, and grieving, seeking new paths, and sure to find.

Christ is alive, and goes before us to show and share what love can do. This is a day of new beginnings; our God is making all things new.

Do you think maybe I am moving into my new season and a new beginning? Here’s hoping!

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On Friday, March 27, 2009, I got to see myself on television. And on Monday, March 30, 2009, Foster’s Daily Democrat did a follow up story about my CBS experience. I’m certainly getting my “15 minutes of fame.”

Waking up Friday morning I experienced the only bit of nervousness I had about the interview that had been taped live. I thought, “Gee, in just a couple of hours, millions of people are going to see ME on national television.” Enter about one second of nervousness till my brain continued, “And most of them aren’t going to give a flying fig about me afterward.” Exit nervousness. My shower beckons.

Five of us were gathered in my daughter’s apartment to watch my debut — OK, here comes the 8 am news on The Early Show. One piece will get aired after that and then SHOW TIME! Probably 15-20 hours of tape had been condensed into a four-minute video followed by a two-minute interview. Talk about a mess on the cutting room floor!

How did it look? I thought the video captured my professional side while also showing my enthusiasm and sense of humor.

And what about the portion recorded live that I had not yet seen? “Not bad,” if I don’t say so myself! I did look like I was having a good time, and I was!

Shortly after the piece ended, I received phone calls and emails telling me what a great job I had done. Some are shared below, not for the purpose of tooting my own horn but to show you how surrounded I have been through this process even before and will continue after my involvement with CBS. Without that support, it would have been even harder to get up every morning and go about the business of getting a job.

“Congratulations on your CBS debut! I thought your segment was terrific this morning! You had great energy and spoke well. I hope you’re pleased with the editing they did. It was way too short a segment but we knew all along that it would be.”

“ – great job representing our generation!”

“Congratulations Diana. Your segment was great… Your intelligence, poise and personality show through.. I was really proud of you. (Oh yeah, Bob wasn’t so bad either. *>)”

“Just watched you on TV & we’re so proud of you! You came across so well…vibrant, bright, enthusiastic…all that good stuff!!! We just know that something great is going to come out of this.”

“Wow! I wasn’t expecting such an all-inclusive approach from CBS. They delved into your whole life! The interview that you did with Harry came across beautifully. You were well-spoken, poised, and chic. Have you heard anything from prospective employers? I have to tell you that you did NOT look like an OLDER person looking for work.”

“It may sound weird, but I am really proud of you for going through that process with CBS and having it ‘out there’ – I am impressed and I wish I could hire you!”

“I’m so ‘groud’ of you (new word I heard this week that someone coined: grateful & proud)! I just saw the video of your CBS piece and you were fantastic! You were in ‘Diana’ professional mode, but were also relaxed ‘Dee’ mode–loved it!!! Not only did who you are and your experience and confidence come across, but you did positively express the reality (one I think definitely needs to be altered) of the hiring of younger, perhaps ‘cheaper,’ employees that aren’t necessarily the best qualified…”

“Great work, Dee! You did beautifully!”

“Excellent, segment Diana!! Your story was great and you came across relaxed and natural. I even loved how they showed you wanting to do a ‘retake’ on taping your personal ad… It was all a great way to showcase what the ‘older’ age bracket of people is going through to find a job. Good luck with the right phone call coming to you…and may it be SOON!!”

“I think you were your best agent – you were great, even under the pressure of national television! Well spoken, concise, thoughtful, and you spoke in specifics. … I agree with the host’s sentiment…what the hell is wrong with everyone else that they haven’t hired you yet?”

“Diana, you did a great job, and I would hire you in a minute! Best of luck in your job search, and your next employer will be very fortunate to have you on the team. Nice job on this story CBS, and for your assistance to this very worthy job applicant!”

Any of you who have gone through the hard work and emotional upheaval of trying to get a job will agree with me when I say that even when you are flying high, it is easy to fall back into the doldrums. It takes only one small prick to bring down a helium balloon.

So getting that affirmation from those around me (both personally and professionally) has been instrumental in keeping me focused, upbeat, and not depressed, especially when those moments of rejection occur.

For example, Monday evening while still “basking in the glow” of reading those emails and another front page article and photo, I received my “thanks but no thanks” email from an organization to which I have applied for six jobs.

Yup, no matter how much fame (notoriety?) I’ve experienced in the last few weeks, I’m still keeping it all in perspective. So far none of it has produced a job, but I have had a heck of a ride! Thank you CBS!

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