2011 was quite a year for me. I was selected as Putnam City Schools teacher of the year and made it to the finals for state teacher of the year before I had to drop out of the competition. I dropped out because I took a job at the State Department of Education as the Science Director and that competition is run out of this office.
Boy, have I been missing the classroom! Fortunately, I still have some opportunities to teach and have been getting my fix of student interaction that way. These opportunities occurred at Southern Nazarene University, a small liberal-arts university, of which I am an alum.
About two months after I took the job of Science Director, SNU was awarded a Title III grant to open a new Online Learning Center. This center will coordinate all of the classes as they begin to be offered online. One component of the grant is the need to hire an Instructional Designer; a coach for faculty to enable them to get their course transitioned from face-to-face to an online format. When the grant was awarded, I thought, “Wow! That would be an awesome job!” However, I had only been at SDE and wasn’t sure about leaving so soon. I didn’t really know what the job was all about, but had an opportunity to visit with the grant facilitator and got some more information. I became much more interested.
First a little history, I already said I was alum, but I didn’t mention that my wife is a faculty member there. We are heavily vested in the University community through our work as mentors to students. We do this through volunteer work with Student Government and New Student Institute. Our work with SGA involves meeting with the (this year’s) Junior Class council and advising them on their leadership of the class. It’s definitely one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done (aside from entering the teaching profession). Additionally, we have just become the coach of the Mind Games Team, a quiz-bowl type event run by a local radio station.
Now back to the grant, I went ahead and applied for the position. I didn’t know if I even had a shot or not. All of my knowledge in technology is from practical application, not from my education. However, I AM starting a PhD in Instructional Technology in January. At least I’ll now be getting some theoretical knowledge, as well. I say I have experience in technology integration in the classroom. I have enough that I was named 2011′s Technology Teacher of the Year by the Oklahoma Technology Association. As I said, 2011 was quite a year.
To make a long story short, I’ve been offered the job of Instructional Designer at SNU and I have accepted it. I start work on the 6th of January. I absolutely cannot believe I’ll be working at dear old SNU! It’s a dream come true. For the last several years, my end vocational goal has been to teach full-time at SNU and I think this is a step in the right direction. I’m thankful and blessed beyond what you can believe.