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All People > tjatkin > CCO Blog > 2018 > May

4 Words – 40 Years Later

Posted by tjatkin May 8, 2018

As we recognize Teacher Appreciation Day in the U.S., I want to take a moment to pay tribute to my grade school teacher, Ms. M., who’s words of encouragement still stick with me 40 years later. 


I attended third through fifth grades at Oakton Elementary school in northern Virginia.  Our classroom was referred to as "The Learning Center." It included 120 students from across several grade-levels, taught by 4 teachers in a highly fluid and energizing environment.


In the fall of my 5th grade year, I participated in the school play competition. I wrote, directed and performed in my first play, The Snoggletoss Family. (Catchy title, huh? Part of a longer story.) The experience was exhilarating. My friends were the cast. My mother came to see all 5 performances. And, we won the competition!


Several months later I learned we were moving away before my sixth-grade year. My father was a career Navy officer and he was going to be stationed in Hawaii. We moved every three years and I loved it because my parents made it a family adventure (and Hawaii is, well Hawaii).


We didn’t have yearbooks to sign, so on my last day I asked my teachers to sign the manila envelope that contained my school papers. Ms. M, who taught and worked with me across multiple school subjects, wrote four simple words, "to a great playwright."


Ms. M. understood and recognized a passion in me. She understood it probably more profoundly than I think I did at the time.  While I dabbled in creative theater, writing and directing over the years, I pursued a career path that included military service (to include serving as a faculty member), a political appointment, and many years of working in the IT and technology business sector. I've loved every moment, challenge, opportunity and experience along the way.


Just over 40 years later, Ms. M's four words remained etched in my mind.  Two years ago, I took 6 months off from my 'day job' and I wrote a screenplay. I had some amazing mentors and support in my work, and it was simply an awesome experience. Those four words from Ms. M. inspired me to live a fuller life. She helped me to see I could embrace all the passions I have.


Thank you Ms. M. Thank you to all the teachers who impact and inspire their students in the moment, and for decades to come.


tim child.jpeg

I attended Blackboard’s Teaching and Learning Conference (TLC) in Manchester, England, three weeks ago which included clients from 100 institutions across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.


While there, I had the pleasure of meeting the 3 Blackboard MVPs based in the UK. Matthew Deeprose, Chris Boon, Jonathan Knight, I witnessed first-hand their leadership of and support for the Community – presenting & sharing their insights, being active in their local user groups, and leading discussions on the Community Site such as Upgrade Club and Show us your Blackboard.


The Blackboard Community of users is an inspiring network of people who want to help one another in order to improve learning.  As a company, we want to identify and commend those clients who spend that extra time to support and share with others in the community in significant ways.


The Blackboard MVP program recognizes individuals who have expertise in Blackboard products, instructional design and the overall educational technology landscape. Our MVP's are engaged and dedicated clients who are leaders in the community.


This year, we are pleased to welcome 17 new dedicated leaders into the program. Please join me in congratulating and thanking them!


Chris Boon, Senior TEL Support Analyst, City College Norwich

Khadejah Brown, Professional Development Manager, United States Department of Agriculture

Justin Carrell Technology Support Specialist III, Tarleton State University

Dena Carrigan, Director Distance Education, Alvin Community College

Marco D'Alessio, Learning Architect, Laureate Education

David C. Dixon, Project Team Leader, Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College

Casey Eubank, LMS Administrator, WSU Tech

Paula James Kaplan, Instructional Designer, Marshall University

Jason Kane, Instructional Designer, Schoolcraft College

Helen Keier Manager of Support Services, CUNY John Jay College

Alex Manly, Director of Technology Learning Resources, Arkansas Tech University

Carolyn Ponce, Blackboard Administrator & Coordinator of Distance Education, Arkansas State University

Mark Reynolds, Lead Application Specialist, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Humberto Salazar, Online Rector, Universidad del Valle de Mexico

Lisa Sawtell Director of Online Learning and Educational Technology, Stetson University

Susan Subocz Vice President, US/UK Digital Learning Solutions Center, Laureate Education/Walden University

Mary Talalay, Instructional Designer, Johns Hopkins University - The Peabody Institute


I encourage you to follow each of these leaders in the Community.  We now have 58 MVPs, please check out the full list of MVPs.


@MVPs please share with us why you wanted to become an MVP and what the Community means to you!


Photo: Matthew Deeprose, Jonathan Knight, Marissa Dimino, Chris Boon