- Emergency Preparedness Distance Learning - October 18, 2016
- Educational Renaissance: Veteran Teachers Vest in Change - October 10, 2016
- Breaking out of the Norm with Breakout Edu - April 29, 2016
- Mini Thought Bubble on Performance Assessments - April 12, 2016
- The Sensibilities of Mind Mapping - March 15, 2016
- Pioneering Nearpod - January 28, 2016
- Classroom Work Flow Before the Holidays - December 15, 2015
- Surviving the Doldrums of Education - December 1, 2015
- E-Sub Plans for Educators - November 17, 2015
- Presenting Missing Histories - November 2, 2015
I had been teaching for two years when my colleague and future husband was named to the 1998 Olympic team to Nagano Japan. It was a classic story. A full time teacher takes a year off from the daily grind of education, transfers that intensity, focus, dedication and stamina into skiing and wins the one gold ticket race. How hard do teachers work? It can be an Olympic effort.
Marc Gilbertson recently took time out of his full schedule as a technology integrationist to speak to the students during their 20 minute advisory. Some educators have collaborated and organize a TED Talk style series of speakers we have branded, Follow The Dream Project. We encourage seniors, alumni and community members to speak to voluntary student crowds.
Marc spoke to a packed crowd in our library media center starting with a video clip from the Outdoor Life Network coverage of the 1998 qualifying race at Lake Placid, New York. It had snowed 18", the grooming equipment at the former Olympic course had caught on fire, the odds were stacked against an easy win. OLN broadcasted live race coverage announcing this as a Cinderella story. It was fun to see students respond to the clip, looking first at the video and then at Marc as if they had never seen him before. I faded the video just as the digitized title flashed to "The Dark Horse to Nagano", a collapsed figure in the snow. Students cheered, Marc humbly took the stage with his own slide show of collected memories. Here's a synopsis of his talk.
“I'd been teaching for 6 years in the Lamoille Middle School social studies department when I was struck by a thoughtful message from a guest speaker. A local author was sharing his recently published story about a Guinness Book of World Record Holders. One individual could juggle 16 ping pong balls blowing them into the air with his mouth. How does anyone do this? They start with one ball and practice. The author asked students what makes them happy and what they are doing about keeping happiness as a goal to pursue. I headed back to my classroom with the students telling them to have dreams and goals when I realized that I would be hypocritical if I did not take the same advice. A quote in the hallway above a doorframe read something about men following a life of quiet desperation and I realized at that moment that I did not want that life. I was already skiing well enough to win local races but I had not seriously considered taking a risk at making the Olympic team.”
Slides of mountains of Nagano and the race course scrolled behind Marc, settling on an image of Marc with his race director, Jim Fredericks of Rossignol.
“I was fortunate to have a community that was very supportive. One friend of mine evaluated my race results and encouraged me to ignore the usual path to making the National Team and to take the one race risk. If I lost that spot I would still have my teaching and the life I currently enjoyed. The school board approved my year's leave of absence. This was a long shot but I'm glad. I took it. Win or lose, the journey changed my life.”
Marc waves a giant foam finger with an icon of a skier and his name on it.
“I'm probably one of the few Nordic skiers in the world to have fans at an event waving foam fingers in support of me. The math teacher and a few others organized a fan bus to come over to Lake Placid. The cheered me on through the qualifiers. Competitors told me that they were thoroughly jealous to see so many crazed kids waving fingers just for me. That community support public schools offer is like none other. It's why I chose to stay in teaching at Lamoille.”
Marc zooms to a slide of the Olympic Village, a slide of the gold medal hockey game and a picture of his younger self, in USA regalia, nestled in amongst the members of the women's Sweidish hockey team.
“I wasn't a permanent member of the US National Team named to the Olympic team so I wasn't invited to stay up in Hakuba near the race venue more than a few nights. I stayed down in the Village which was fun for me. My race was the last event so I met other athletes, attended other events, took in cultural differences. There is so much camaraderie between competitors of each nation and the little things were fun to notice. Toilets were very different here, (he pans to a slide of a Japanese toilet) we slept on futons and tatami mats. It was 1998 and I was using this new technologies called email and cell phones.”
His next slide is a Picollage of images with three messages.
“Where will you be when you are 60? I have made being happy a longtime part of my life. I have balance of friends and family and work. I have kept these three messages in my mind: follow your bliss. No regrets, take the first step.”
Marc finishes the slide show with an image of an Olympic Norwegian Curler at Sochi and the Sochi slogan.
“As you leave today also remember to wear cool pants (like the curler) (this draws laughter). And remember, Hot. Cool. Yours.”