Almost 7 years ago I made the decision not to renew my teaching contract. I chose teaching thinking it would be a career I would stick with until I retired. In addition to teaching I was an assistant cross country and track coach. I enjoyed my time in public education and loved coaching but after a few years my heart wasn’t in it 100% and I knew that wasn’t fair for my students, so I took some time to think about what I wanted to do. I wanted to stay in the education industry but focus more on working with teachers. After several months of interviewing and talking to SMART Technologies, I landed a job as a training specialist. We had a few SMART Boards at our school and I saw firsthand the excitement the students had when we used the SMART Board in class.
I spent the majority of my time with SMART as an education consultant working with school districts in the US and across the globe to assist in developing successful implementations. In my 6 1/2 years with SMART I met some amazing people and learned a great deal about the ed tech world. I’m grateful for the countless opportunities I was given to grow my knowledge and skill set.
In February of 2011 I was talking to a co-worker (who is also an amazing mentor) about what the next step should be in my career. He asked me if I felt I needed to leave SMART to continue to grow professionally. At the time my answer was no, but as the months went on I began to realize deep down the answer was “yes”. Looking back, I think it’s a great question for anyone to ask themselves if they are starting to feel a little bored, stuck or confused about what’s next.
A few months ago I read the book “Anything you Want” by Derek Sivers. In the book he talks about making big decisions. He says the answer should either be “Hell yes” or no. I kept that in the back of my mind as I started to look outside of SMART. I was careful in looking for a company that had a mission and core values that matched mine. After interviewing and meeting with several people within Discovery Education I knew I found the perfect fit. When the offer letter came I instantly thought to myself “Hell Yes!”.
I started with Discovery Education the beginning of December and I am overcome with excitement for the future. I have a lot to learn and although it feels overwhelming at times, I’m happy I forced myself outside of my comfort zone.
When I left SMART I sent a farewell email to my co-workers (below). I wanted to capture my thoughts and share them so I can some day look back and remember exactly how I felt when I knew it was time to change.
A career change is a big decision. It can be scary, frustrating and emotional. Self-doubt and those pesky voices in your head (Seth Godin calls it the Lizard Brain) will tell you a million reasons why you aren’t good enough. It’s funny though, because in the end those voices are almost always wrong. The more you challenge yourself to do things that scare you, the more you will find your confidence and strength. If you are in the market for a new job, take your time. If an opportunity presents itself, you either say “Hell yes!” or no. Why take something good when you can have something great?
Here’s to 2012. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
My goodbye letter:
It’s incredibly hard to even know where to start with this email. Almost 6 1/2 years ago I joined SMART as one of the first of two US based trainers. Since then I have held 5 positions within 3 different departments, moved from Atlanta to Chicago, had 2 boys, worked with thousands of educators, traveled to 4 countries, collaborated with some of the most amazing co-workers and had the honor of playing a small part in transforming learning. Every single day at SMART has been a gift. I never knew how empowering work could be when you love what you do until I came to work for SMART. I have become a better person as a result of my time at SMART and I’ve made many life-long friends in the process. The passion, dedication and energy I have been surrounded by over the past few years has been so inspiring and I will deeply miss each and every one of you.
It was a difficult decision to make, but I have accepted a position with Discovery Education. I’m excited about this new chapter in my professional career and I’m sure I will continue to see many of you in the field at the various Ed Tech conferences.
I am proud to say I have been a part of an organization that is changing the way the world works and learns. I will continue to be one of SMART’s biggest cheerleaders- just like the Spartan cheerleaders on SNL 🙂 I know I am leaving you in good hands and I am excited to see what the future holds for SMART. I think Margaret Mead says it best “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” I wish each of you the best of luck and appreciate the support you have given me over the past few years.