"Going Home" - Arizona Adult Educators Gather for Digital Storytelling Conference
Sometimes people ask me and Jen, "You both used to teach adult education, and now you do digital storytelling? That's a big career switch!" The truth is that as both fields are grounded in literacy, voice, and civic participation--it's been a natural transition for us. That's why some of our favorite moments over the past decade have been our repeated trips to Arizona to train our past-colleagues in multimedia tools for the adult education classroom.
About a year ago, when we were talking about the fifth Adult Education Digital Storytelling Institute with Sheryl Hart, Educational Technology Manager for Arizona's Adult Education, she said, "Wouldn't it be great if we could get everyone who has been through a digital storytelling training to come together for a few days?" That coversation marked the beginning of our scheming for the first Arizona Adult Education Digital Storytelling Conference on March 19th and 20th in Queen Creek. Almost fifty adult educators from the far reaches of the state came together to share their experiences creating stories in the classroom, to talk about getting programs off the ground, to using stories for advocacy, and technology resources for educators.
Josh Schacter gave an incredible presentation on his work with youth and photography (it even included a lemur dance which unfortunately was not recorded,) and Miguel Garcia of Queen Creek inspired us all by telling us about the story festivals he has hosted the past few years. Last spring he had over six hunded community members gather to watch dozens of stories produced by adult education students.
Pam Castor and Nancy Potenza of Cochise County Adult Education have also trained ALL of their adult educators in digital storytelling. Their supervisor, Jessica Dilworth, was my first employer out of college. It feels like coming home to watch her story that she produced in our Institute this past November, The Buffet.
While we had planned to screen stories as part of a "film festival" both days, we made a last minute decision to show all the stories of the educators who were present at the conference. Many of these had been produced in different years, so most of us hadn't seen all of them. Sheryl had opened the conference by talking about how profound an experience she had had back at our first Institute in 2005, making her own story.
We had to start passing around the tissues at that point! In all seriousness though, it was an amazing feeling to look around the room and have gained a few minutes of insight into the faces in the audience. Even more powerful--to know that each educator, each program manager, and each volunteer, is doing his or her best to pass on a legacy of honoring the stories, the wisdom, and the voices of adult education students across the state.
To check out some of the presentations and resources, take a look at the conference blog.