An important part of any learning process is taking time to reflect, to consider and even document experiences and insights. As I celebrate my one month anniversary as a new member of the Priority Learning team, it is a good time to reflect on the changes of the past couple of months and to introduce myself to the wider Priority Learning family.
I am fascinated by how many different lives a person can have in one lifetime. Changes that happen to us and changes we choose to make create unique periods and stories within our lives. Marriage, divorce, children, jobs, successes, and loss, all these things can move us in new, unexpected directions. I appreciate that one of the communication foundations at Priority Learning is storytelling as a way to connect people, and I enjoy hearing people's stories. However, I always thought of myself as not wanting to have those different lives and different stories, as not wanting to change. But change happens despite my best efforts at denial, and in the past five years I have been through a divorce and a leadership change in my former job. I discovered that the best way to handle these situations was to embrace the opportunities and to take control of the changes, and maybe take the risk to create a new story within my life.
For more than 20 years, I was an art museum educator and had the great privilege of working at the Portland Museum of Art for 14 of those years. As the Assistant Director of Student and Teacher Learning, my job was to connect the museum's collections and exhibitions to the K-12 schools in Maine. When I began to consider leaving the PMA, the first "given" of that change was not leaving Maine. My family moved to Augusta when my brother and I were six years old, we graduated from Cony High School, and despite several years spent out of state for college and early jobs, Maine has always been home.
As I began to explore career options, I thought about what was most engaging and rewarding about my work at the museum. Of course the content comes first to mind, art connects us to people across time and location, to big ideas and personal feelings, and to each other, the friends and family we take with us to the art museum. If you want to learn something new about someone you love, go look at art together and talk about it! But art content aside, it was the education aspect, particularly for adult learners, of my museum work that I enjoyed the most. While I love working with children-the joy and delight they feel as they see their first "real" Monet, watching their eyes open to the possibilities of art and ideas-my primary audience was adults, the docents and teachers who were most responsible for the student experience. I came to see the amazing potential of adults as lifelong learners as my teacher audiences embraced new ideas not only for the benefit of their students, but also for their own growth and learning. This passion for adult learning led me to the field of organizational development. From my first meeting with Ralph, and through the subsequent meetings with Lorraine and Craig, I was struck by the mission and approach of the Priority Learning team. Here is a group of people doing good and interesting work, and who share my values of attention to and a sincere respect for the personal development and growth of each individual. Being invited to be a part of this dynamic team, a family in every sense of the word, is an honor.
The idea that "the only constant is change" has its roots in ancient Greek philosophy, and is one that I am learning to embrace in my own life, and one that is vital to the mission of Priority Learning. I have seen that the people here in our workshops and the organizations that contract with us are looking for change. They are looking to learn, grow, and to push themselves, to changes themselves to benefit their own lives, their relationships with colleagues, and their organizations. I look forward to being a part of that change, and I admire the courage of all of you who are here seeking to create new stories in your own lives.
Stacy Rodenberger is the newest member of the Priority Learning staff.