As I sat and watched the tweets come in from #ADE2015, I felt somewhat jealous and disappointed that I hadn’t applied. My Apple Journey began in December 2014 when I attended the Apple Regional Training Centre Winter Conference for the first time. I had just been appointed as eLearning Lead Teacher for North Tyneside Learning Trust and, as part of this role, would lead and manage the newly created North Tyneside Apple Regional Training Centre.

I was at a crossroads in my career and the eLearning Lead role couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. I knew I had so much to give and that I could make a difference but I had lost my spark and my ‘Tiggerness’. I attended the conference in December before I started my new role in January and couldn’t have been more inspired or invigorated for what was to come. I spent two days in a room with people like me who ‘got it’. The spark was back. On the evening of the first day, I found out about Apple Distinguished Educators and an announcement was made to encourage people to apply. I vividly remember a conversation with Sarah  Hoyle in the lift on the way back to my room encouraging me to apply and that it would be great for me, but, in my heart of hearts, I knew I didn’t have the experience or expertise to be an ADE at that point in time. So I decided, after the conference, that I wouldn’t apply. However, I knew I had found something special in the Apple Community and had a lump in my throat as I left the conference on the coach as it was such a fabulous experience.

I made the decision watching all of the amazing tweets over the week of #ADE2015 (once I had filtered the Amsterdam Dance Event tweets that were also running at the same time!) and seeing how incredible the event was that I was definitely going to apply in the next cohort and that, between then and now, I would try to immerse myself in every opportunity that I could to help me gain my ADE status. There were so many amazing, inspirational educators who attended Institute that year that I was completely in awe of; amazing practitioners striving to do their best every day for their children – many of which I had already met at RTC Conferences (Mat PullenLisa WhittakerLouise ZwanepoelMartin CouttsStuart HammersleyMarc FaulderGreg Hughes to name a few) and I had decided I wanted to be just like them. I shared their passion, determination and drive.

Over the past 2 years, I have immersed myself in all things Apple, attending the RTC Conferences, several Apple Events, and embedding Apple Technology in the 46 schools that I work with. I have worked with existing ADEs on a number of different projects to provide some truly excellent opportunities for our children.

I didn’t think for one minute that when the ADE application window opened, that I would be on maternity leave with my first baby! I felt very much stuck between a rock and a hard place – I desperately wanted to apply to become an ADE but creating an application video with a newborn baby proved to be as difficult as you would imagine it would be! There were many times that I thought that I couldn’t do it, but with so much amazing support from my husband, we wrapped Daisy up in her blankets, bundled her into her car seat, went to the Angel of the North and my application video was created.

Done. Submitted. Then the waiting began.

I would like to say that I thought every day about my application video and when we would find out, but motherhood took over and, before I knew it, there were rumbles that the announcements would be made ‘soon’.  I tried not to get my hopes up – I had quite a few people saying “you’ll be fine”, “you’ll definitely get it” but I also had doubters, one of which being myself. There was no way that I could even categorise myself in the same league as some of the people that I named before, so how could I be an ADE?

Then the email came through. I couldn’t believe it – this was the one thing that I had been working towards for the last two years, it meant the world to me and it had finally happened. I was an ADE! My thoughts then turned to Academy, and how to attend whilst on maternity leave. Could I leave Daisy? How would I feel when I got there? I hadn’t been in the classroom since November – what happens if I had forgotten everything? So I decided to return to work the week before Academy to help me feel more prepared. Knowing that there would be people at Academy that I knew made it easier, and knowing that Paul Tullock, one of the teachers in our Trust, would be there also helped allay my fears somewhat.

So, Academy came and I set off for London on the train, full of nerves and worry – what if I wasn’t good enough? What happens if I get found out and they realise that I’m not as good as they think I am?

As I walked into the room on Wednesday morning for the start of Academy, I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of what was to follow. I had wanted this for so long and I was finally here. As I sat down on Table 18, met by the friendly face of Zainab Patel, I really struggled to keep my emotions in check (I blame that on being a new Mam!). Then Peter Ford graced the stage and said some words that have stuck with me since…

“Class of 2017, you are all here on your own merit. You deserve to be here.”

It was then that I finally felt it – I am an Apple Distinguished Educator. I’ll never be in the same category as the Class of 2015, but I’m ok with that – I share their passion, determination and drive and will inspire the Class of 2019 as the Class of 2015 have inspired me.

I’m an ADE2017 and I am so proud to create, share and amplify my story within the ADE Community. This journey is just beginning…

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