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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Introducing Edutopia.org's Community Manager

Betty Ray

Director of Programming and Innovation @Edutopia

I am thrilled and honored to be joining Edutopia.org as the community manager. I'm still finding my way around and getting to know everyone. I hope you'll take a few seconds to introduce yourself!

By way of a little background, I got my professional start as a journalist, though I've been immersed in online communities since 1995, when I first stumbled into a screenwriters group on America On-Line. Here was a collection of people -- with completely different writing abilities and backgrounds -- who had never even met before. Indeed, they were scattered all over the planet!

Yet, day after day, week after week, they went back to that chat room, helping each other through writers' block, or offering suggestions for plot builds or character development, or making introductions to agents, or actors, or set designers.

I was so awed by the collaboration and trust, and the positive professional impact of this group, that I decided to make a career leap. I taught myself some basic Web-programming skills and joined the staff at Minnesota Public Radio's Web site. There, I produced chats with Garrison Keillor and helped put A Prairie Home Companion on the Internet.

After moving to the Bay Area in 1998, I became the steward for the community at Live365, the world's largest network of independent Internet radio stations. One market crash and two Webby Awards later, I joined a social network for people over 40.

Then, my life changed immeasurably when I had a baby last April. Once I got used to no sleep and being spit up on constantly, I got involved on a number of local parenting and educational communities. I talked to many parents and teachers about their concerns. I worked with some colleagues to develop a large-scale project-based program for Oakland parents, teachers, and children for grades K-12. Alas, the economy had just tanked, and our tiny funding went the way of the 8-track player.

Fast-forward a few months, and I feel like the luckiest person on the planet to be the community manager at Edutopia.org. I am so impressed by the caliber of bright, caring, and articulate educators who visit and comment on the site. I am blown away by the commitment to improvement across geographical, cultural, and economic bounds. I am energized and encouraged by the positive, actionable tactics to make those goals a reality.

With all that said, I will do whatever I can to ensure that the discussions here are enriching, meaningful, supportive, safe, and vibrant. This blog is the first step in a much larger initiative to encourage dialogue among Edutopians. For now, please let me know who you are, your role in education, and -- if you feel like it -- what you like about Edutopia.org. (We'll get into what we can do better, later!) Feel free to post here, or email community@edutopia.org. I look forward to hearing from you!

Betty Ray

Director of Programming and Innovation @Edutopia
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Comments (7)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Rene Bender's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I have been a substitute teacher for 13 years, after making a career switch from the retail book business. I decided to begin working on my CA teaching credential two years ago and I am one more session of student teaching, two Tasks, one RICA, and a portfolio presentation away from earning it---just in time for a complete downtown in the education profession. I have always told people that I would be happy just being a well-qualifed sub; but now, even that is uncertain.

For the moment, I am finished with my coursework. I come to Edutopia to continue learning and hopefully maintain my enthusiasm. So far, I can't think of one video I've seen that hasn't inspired me and I often print blogs to save in my portfolio. This is a great site!

Betty Ray's picture
Betty Ray
Director of Programming and Innovation @Edutopia
Staff

Congrats on making the decision to change careers, and for being soooo close! I hear you on the unfortunate timing, though. It's a crazy time across the board, no matter what your field.

But this gets me thinking....I know there's been some discussion on these boards in the last month or so about the stimulus money, but I'd be curious to do a little more digging here. Will the stimulus help people like Rene, and other innovative teachers who are enthusiastic and committed and can bring results? Or not? And if not, why not?

I know it's not all about the money, but surely it will help, no?

Fiona Grimes 's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I, too am a substitute teacher and am working on a M.S.in Education graduate degree. I know there have been a lot of cut backs and schools are not hiring as they did before. However, we have to remember there will always be a need for substitute teachers because people are going to get sick from time to time or have family emergencies. Also the hiring situation for new teachers will not always be like this, things will improve I am sure of that!

Ian Kaiser 's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hello everyone I am the Career Pathway Consultant for the Vallejo City Unified School District. I oversee 6 academies, Bio Tech, Hospitality, Media Graphic, Public Service, Engineering and Business. Vallejo is at the bottom of the chain when it comes to test scores and drop out rate. Its a wonderful place to be because I am drawing on best practices around the country to offer our students project base learning models attached to real life applications. We are transforming a lost generation. Our grant money requires Advisory Boards from the private sector and also design teams. Our media graphics needs structure and vision. I am been focusing on networking and connecting to innovation outside of the Bankrupt Vallejo.

I solicit you ideas, connections and just plane friendship building

Thank you

Ian Kaiser
Career Pathway Consultant
Vallejo City Unified School District
707-342-3569
iunlimited@juno.com

Bruce Milam's picture
Bruce Milam
Substitute treacher at Coleville schools

Frist I would like to say congrats Betty. I too am a sub and it is hard to see talented teachers let go because of a crisis that is not of their making while those that caused it get large raises ( Bankers). We will lose 4 teachers next year. The children suffer but there is really nothing that can be done. I bought a case of paper for the copiers because they ran out of funds and can't aford to buy any paper. I wish that the Federal gov't would bail out the schools like they did the auto industry and the finanical industry. Well no use crying over spilled milk the year is comming to a close only afew more days for Nevada and a couple of weeks for California. We are all looking forward to a restful summer.

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