Monday, July 18, 2011

Saying goodbye to GIV IT

Two weeks ago Governor's Institute in Information Technology came to its closure. 2011 was the eleventh year since I founded it under the leadership of former GIV IT director Jean Olsen and former Champlain College President Roger Perry. It marked the final year I would be directing it. Appropriately only motherhood and freelancing as a computer artist were comparative for consecutive length of time in a role for me.

GIV IT 2011 (thanks to Ray McCarthy-Bergeron for all videos)
The beginning two years were really rough—starting from nothing but an idea, energy, and the experience of other GIV directors. The first GIV IT assistant director Kim Purdy was instrumental in setting the ground work for everything that would become key. I think of her every year when we go to miniature golf, the beach, serve late night snacks, or host the Murder Mystery Dinner. She made sure we included fun. The students were key to creating it as well. From early students the Weekbook was borne, then the morning run/walk. This year Zumba was added and lots more music. Some of our early ideas took off and others flopped but along the way we learned what worked well and what created a community.

GIV IT 2010

The RAs are the linchpin of the community. Throughout my time as director I have worked beside incredible young people who have committed time and energy to caring for the GIV IT teens. Along the way, these young people matured from college freshmen to adults. Nikki brought energy and Capture the Flag, Rafi—a new form of Murder Mystery, Bryan—Ninja, Ben pushed all the edges, and Meagan shined warmth and inner reflection. Aaron and Dave matured from campers to outstanding RAs. Alicia, Jamie, Alison, Mike, Emily, Lauren, and Elizabeth (now GIV Arts director) were my right hand—without each of them I would have lost my mind.

GIV IT 2009

But what has been elemental to success is the longstanding, dedicated, talented faculty. Each of whom is an excellent teacher. I should know having watched them multiple times in their classrooms and working with the teens on the final challenge. Bob Cartelli reminds me "its summer camp"—keep it fun, Frank Canovatchel makes sure accidents don't happen ensuring play is safe, Ken Howell shares his true teacher's heart and has touched many, Chris Neuhardt brings her artist's spirit into the classroom through the digital world and back into the physical world, Joe Manley entertains and teaches us in and out of costume, Jim Reda is Mr. Math Wizard—the teacher you wished you had, and Ray McCarthy-Bergeron is the digital genius who inspires the students with his energy and broad knowledge base. In the last few years, Champlain College alumni have become faculty. This year Alex Schwartz and Becky Schmidt stepped into their roles exceptionally well teaching 3D and video. And this year Coby Brownell came on as director-in-training. He'll take charge next year. As a whole this faculty is a family.

GIV IT 2007

So what do I do? Plan, procure supplies, track students and schedules, and try to add the framing questions around which technology and art are being built. I ask the community how will our world look tomorrow when they step into it as adults and how do they want to influence it? I learn as much from their reflections as I do from any other experience.

GIV IT is truly a unique form of education. Education that is engaging, fun, energizing, exhausting, caring, and influential. It is a once in a lifetime event for the students—often changing their perspectives on what they can do and whom they can be. Through them, I've gotten to be younger every year.

GIV IT 2011 Girls in Technology

So why did I leave? Not because I didn't enjoy it anymore but because I could not devote the proper amount of planning time to it anymore. Too many jobs and not enough time. As I stood on the stage the final Sunday, I was overwhelmed with emotion. So many young people! I've been fortunate to share a bit of time in the lives of over 450 exceptional teens and 70 or so wonderful college students/RAs. They have each deeply touched and changed my life. I will miss my Shangri-la and our GIV IT family!

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