Thank You for Learning with Us at Ignite 2014!

By: Tina Shaffer

Two years ago someone had an idea… an idea that Destination Imagination could play host to an educational conference that would bring together educators–both formal and informal–to help spread the word that students around the world should have every opportunity to experience deep, meaningful learning in fun, encouraging and exciting environments. This past weekend in Dallas, TX, that idea became a reality.

It all started Thursday night with a welcome reception for everyone in attendance. From the 20th floor of the hotel, the Dallas skyline in the distance, it became clear that the Ignite conference was going to be a good one. Attendees had the opportunity to meet each other along with the staff and some of the presenters for the weekend. As the conference director, I got the opportunity to take a deep breath and see a year of hard work and planning come to fruition.  The entire staff and volunteer team that spent the year working to put on this conference looked out at the room and knew that even if the conference ended that evening, we had accomplished something special.

But Ignite was just beginning! The next morning, our first keynote address of the weekend came from Cheryl “Action” Jackson, an amazing woman with a history of helping her community and the world at large. She shared a passionate message of hope and encouragement as we begin another year helping to improve the lives of students around the world with this amazing education program. Cheryl is a woman that regularly has lunch with Oprah, and here she was telling us how important OUR work is to the future.

From there, attendees went into a session with AVAdventure where they engaged in a challenge activity from The Reset Council.  As participant teams presented their solutions to community challenge of rebuilding and re-opening a community theatre center in the fictional city of Reset, the team from AVA took notes so that evening, they could present a live, theatrical presentation that incorporated the 15 individual solutions from each team that night.  Teams generated ideas for songs from the opening production (“Somewhere, over the rubble”), solutions for community outreach and new theatre policies to engage the community in the work of the theatre. The resulting production was amazing.

Friday’s breakout sessions included topics such as volunteer engagement, training Team Managers using the Roadmap, Getting your Team to WOW!, and ideas for expanding and improving the tournament experience (just to name a few). And after all of the breakout sessions were done, Destination Imagination and the Conrad Foundation held a reception and presentation to launch this year’s Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge, the newest challenge in the Destination Imagination portfolio of programs. Our friend and long-time supporter from NASA, Susan Currie, was also at reception to deliver even more great news: NASA and Destination Imagination have officially signed a 5-year Space Act Agreement!

After the reception, attendees joined the DI Staff and Board of Trustees in recognizing the amazing efforts of our Affiliates from the past year.  Affiliates won awards for their presence on Facebook, Twitter and their websites, as well as for their efforts in team growth in the 2013-2014 program season. (For a full list of award winners, click here.)

Saturday began with more breakout sessions, this time focusing on educational topics such as creating dynamic classroom environments, using Instant Challenge as rapid project-based learning, 21st century skills in the classroom and project management tools for educators and students. The afternoon keynote from noted speaker Bernie Trilling allowed attendees to understand the 21st century skills movement and the role that organizations such as Destination Imagination fill in, helping to provide educators with the tools needed to achieve transformative education for students in the 21st century.
Ignite 2014 was a resounding success and we can only hope to build on the passion and momentum as we enter the new program season and begin planning for Ignite 2015.
Thank you to everyone that attended, helped plan and provided support for Ignite 2014! Without the collective efforts of an amazing army of people, we would have never achieved the level of success we did this year.
See you all next year!