In July, I became the Interim Assistant Director of Technology at Lafayette School District. As a new administrator, I had many aspirations and goals for my first year. It’s only November, and I am quickly realizing that I am no longer on the road map I drew for myself in July. It’s like thinking you’re going to Coruscant to see all the amazing sights and foods, but now the star cruiser is landing on Hoth instead. There are amazing things on Hoth, but if you were planning on Coruscant…
CUE Rock Star Admin was the professional development I needed to correct my course. The venue was Skywalker Ranch at Big Rock, and the forecast included a beautiful three days of mild fall weather. The theme of the camp was the Hero’s Journey, made famous by Joseph Campbell but perhaps perfected by George Lucas. Coincidence that this camp has that theme at The House That Darth Built (that didn’t get blown up by the rebels)? I think not.
We were attending as educational leaders, and I knew I would be learning a ton from the presenters and attendees. Once we arrived, I introduced Mary Maddux, the assistant superintendent where I work, to several people, including Andrew Schwab and Jon Corippo. Our first assignment of the morning was picking our Hero teams, and we went to Traci Bonde, an outgoing and incredible CTO from Dublin Unified. She was representing change, or in the Hero’s Journey, the Call to Adventure, wherein the hero must begin facing the beginnings of change.
In between sessions, I introduced Mary to Brian Briggs from Plumas Lake Elementary School District. Brian has a brilliant mind, and he has a contagious enthusiasm for educational technology and STEM that I admire. Throughout the camp, we realized that we had mentors all around us like Brian who were giving us support and sharing great ideas.
At lunch, I sat with Mary at a large table full of administrators from different schools and districts. The conversations were full of energy and excitement from the morning sessions. We shared different ideas, ate delicious food (and ice cream sandwiches!), and networked. The highlight of lunch was a short keynote by Joe Sanfelippo.
At the end of the first day’s sessions, Mary and I drove to a restaurant where Amy Fadeji, the night-time social coordinator for the camp, reserved the entire patio area for CUE Rockstar Admin attendees. We sat with Robert Craven (former CUE Board President and current Tustin USD Director of Technology) and Mike Lawrence (CEO of CUE), and the learning and sharing continued. Margaret Fuller once said, “If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.” That is exactly what CUE Rockstar camps do – whether teacher or administrator, the learning happens the entire time you’re part of the camp, and that sharing is not only from the presenters.
Day two went by quickly. We attended sessions, and ended the day with dinner at TOAST restaurant near our hotel where we joined Brian Briggs, Jeff Roberts (superintendent), and Marci Nichols (principal). We talked about Spheros and coding, reading and writing, and mobile devices, all while enjoying great food and the common bond we shared at CUE Rockstar Admin camp.
It’s always hard for me to leave my ed tech family and friends, so Day Three of a CUE event is always bittersweet. Jennifer Kloczko started with a short opening keynote, and she had us all dancing in the aisles when she played Koo Koo Kangaroo Roo’s “Dinosaur Stomp.” We went back to Traci Bonde’s room where our Hero group originally met on day one. Mary and I shared a video about the Hero’s Journey, our ending assignment for the CUE Rock Star Admin camp, and we were lucky enough to get more valuable advice from Traci on network and budget planning. After that, Mary and I went to Joe Sanfelippo’s “Smart Start” session which included a lot of fun kinesthetic activities and ideas.
After lunch, we all said our goodbyes with hopes of seeing each other again at the April CUE Rock Star Admin event. Mary is forever changed from attending her first CUE Rock Star event, as I was when I went to my first in 2012. I know that because she went to this camp she has a deeper appreciation for technology in education and a better grasp on my vision and what is now possible. I know I have a team of passionate educators that is willing to support us and answer our questions, either on Voxer, Twitter, or via email. As cool as the venue was, the powerful, emotional memories are more about the building of tight relationships from this experience, the hundreds of tips and sage advice given that will need to be reviewed often to get me through tough days ahead, and the friendships that will never be lost because we shared a life-changing, eye-opening adventure.
Lisa DeLapo is a Google Certified Teacher/Innovator, a CUE Lead Learner, a Microsoft Innovative Educator, East Bay CUE President, a MERIT13 fellow, and Assistant Director of the MERIT15 and MERIT16 programs. Lisa loves project-based and inquiry-based learning as well as STEM and computer science.