Denise K. HenryOver 15 years ago I became a teacher with a focus on supporting students labeled "at-risk" for dropping out of school. I was an at-risk student myself and obtaining an education absolutely changed my path in life and I wanted other young people to know that with hard work, they can reach their goals in life.  Every step of the way I sought opportunities to be a part of the team that helps young people reach their life goals.  Although my career path has diverged into different roles within many different educational settings, my focus has not strayed from improving the lives of young people through experiences that build character, knowledge of self, skills, and knowledge.  You can read more about my experiences below.  

Students Working CollaborativelyI have been fortunate to meet thousands of very bright and talented young people for whom, a different style of teaching and learning how to learn was all that was needed for them to obtain a career or college pathway. Teaching in very different settings - residential treatment centers, charter schools, and traditional schools - has deepened my understanding of students' and families experiences.   Learning to effectively design curriculum, projects, and assessments for extremely disengaged students allowed me to level up as a teacher and member of a learning community.

Vertical Articulation Poster Activity for CCSSM - Big Ideas at Each Grade LevelAs my skills and knowledge grew, I stretched myself, with the encouragement of my principal, to apply for a mathematics coaching position for a math grant project at our district office.  It was 2010 and awareness of Common Core was just emerging for teachers in our area.  I landed the coaching position and spent the next several years reading, listening, watching, and asking lots of questions to learn as much as I could about the new standards and to expand my teaching methods.  After years of trying to map interventions for math students working several years below grade level, I found the new standards a to be a clear roadmap for building mathematical skills and knowledge in an intentional way.  Standards akin to the NCTM's math habits of mind, technology, and literacy were now addressed and we were encouraged to use multiple methods that build to the algorithm instead of teaching borin
g methods all day, every day.  Through coaching, I developed a passion for collaborating with teachers to share strategies, resources, and subject-area understanding.

Leading a CyberTutor Weekly Staff Meeting with a Virtual StaffI stepped out of the classroom and away from coaching a couple of times in my career.  For a few years I coordinated an online tutoring program at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  In a very short time I learned how to manage a staff working virtually and in-house with live students online, develop courses in Blackboard, and about the issues surrounding students who do not have access to advanced placement courses on their campuses.   It was the first time I had supported high-achieving populations yet the feeling was similar to working with at-risk students.  Each population has needs that traditional systems are not able to serve.  My interest in educational technologies grew and I entered a master's degree in education with an emphasis on technology at San Diego State University.  I also worked as a graduate assistant in the Technologies for Teaching course for two of  my former professors for a few years after graduation.  As a virtual graduate assistant I graded projects and held office hours to assist pre-service teachers with online tools and assignments.  I was incredibly fortunate to study under and work for Dr. Bernie Doge, an extraordinarily gifted educator who is also the reason why we have CUE conferences and Webquests.  

Middle School Math Teachers Exploring Modeling FractionsThe second time I stepped away from teaching and coaching was to serve as a district's K-12 math coordinator.  My first year was the year the district transitioned to Common Core and there was an incredible amount of work involved with the change in standards, curriculum, benchmarks, and state assessments.   I supervised 3 coaches and together we worked side-by-side to redesign literally every standards-based document, assessment, and district web math pages for over 20,000 students and close to 1,000 teachers and support staff.  I developed a bridge curriculum for kindergarten and for summer school to be used with incoming middle school students.  

One of Many Family Math Nights

We also partnered with the staff from extended learning and provided Family Math nights across the district.  The math nights have been one of my favorite events so far - it was a pure joy to see children and parents playing games and engaging in activities together.  I joined the Monterey Bay Area Math Project housed at UC Santa Cruz while working at the district office and continue to plan and facilitate mathematics professional development for teaches across the region.

Blended Learning with Alternative Students and Their Teacher

I have recently returned to coaching at the county office of education with an emphasis on technology, blended learning in all subject areas, and mathematics.  Reconnecting with educational technologies has allowed me to level up again as an educator and build new skill sets as an educational technologist.  I've learned new models, SAMR and TPAK, applications, and that Chromebooks and Google are changing the way IT is managed for 1:1 implementations.  This allows me to lead technology cohorts to transform their classrooms into highly engaging and academically rigorous 21st century work environments.

My skill set deepened as I earned my Google Apps Administrator Level I and II certification then spent many, many hours with my sleeves rolled up learning how to administer Google Apps for Education for the alternative education program.   The county initiated the implementation of the Illuminate data system and I set up the data program server then troubleshooted data connections and automations in the connection between the student information systems and the data software.  I've also maintained my connection with mathematics through participation in grant development at the county level.  

                                                     Google Apps for Education Cert, Level IGoogle Apps for Education Cert, Level IIOnline and Blended Learning Teacher Certification

Most of my free time is spent exploring nature with my family and on the mat at the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gym.  I teach classes, assist with tournament staffing and training, and create and instruct a children's summer camps focusing on non-violent conflict resolution.  I also organize benefit seminars to fundraisers for those in need in the community.

         Exploring Beaches in Northern CA Teaching the Women's Jiu Jitsu Class Kid's Jiu Jitsu Summer Camp; Getting to Know You Activity