A Neat #NEIT2010

Neat! That’s what these past three days in New Paltz, at Mohonk Mountain House have been. NEIT. NEIT is the NYSAIS Education and Information Technology group, an association of technology-minded educators from mostly, but not exclusively, New York State Independent Schools. This group has been meeting for 15 or so years, long enough for lasting friendships to have formed and even for the children of at least two participants to now be participants in their own right!

Mohonk is an easy 90 minute northward drive from where I live. Located on a lake, surrounded by hiking trails and mountains, it is a place that encourages reflection and renewal. And did I mention the fairly new indoor swimming pool? Weather over the entire three day conference was clear and sunny, and each day was warmer than the previous one.

The second afternoon of this conference is traditionally set aside for free time, and we spent it hiking to the top of the tower at the top of the mountain. I always relish this hike, and this year we felt especially pleased because we weren’t huffing and puffing; in fact, we were talking and taking in the fresh air, and feeling invigorated. On the other hand, we did feel it a tad in our quads when climbing all those steps to the top of the tower! The view was worth every footstep. And our conversation with Al made it all the more interesting.

This was an especially meaningful conference for me this year at this time. I finally made it back to NEIT at Mohonk after a too long hiatus. We always go to school for the morning and then head home to pick up our bags before driving to New Paltz. The first time I missed Mohonk, we arrived home to a phone message that my Dad had just been admitted to a hospital. (Fred managed to attend for both of us.) The second time I missed Mohonk, we arrived home after I had done four or five parent conferences only to discover I had a 103 fever. (We participated remotely thanks to Alex and arvind streaming the keynotes, and the use of the now defunct Etherpad for collaborative real time conversations.) And this time, I was looking forward to NEIT as a much needed boost.

My Mom died four weeks ago today, guided by  Compassion & Choices of New York. For two months she coexisted with a stroke that left her paralyzed on her right side; not a pleasant experience for a righty and accomplished pianist and 81-year old computer user and fiercely independent woman!

Even with time off from school, I have found it difficult to wrap my head around my job, other than deriving some focus from teaching my classes. The minutia of school is seeming trivial. I was looking forward to NEIT in the hopes I would be refocused, reenergized and rejuvenated by seeing my colleagues and the surroundings, sparked by the conversations and sessions, and given a respite from the events of the past months. Hazaah! NEIT came through on all counts! I made it to the top of the tower at the top of the mountain to breathe in fresh air and feel the sun on my cheeks.

It feels good to be back. Stay tuned for more NEIT posts about the conference!

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