A pair of Verona Area School District staff members will bring lessons from around the world to district classrooms later this year.

Lisette Venegas, a bilingual resource teacher for Sugar Creek and Core Knowledge, and Rita Mortenson, an educational technology coach at the high school, attended the five-day Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute last month in Utah. The annual event allowed them to connect with educators from around the world, and Mortenson wrote in an email to the Press it was an “amazing experience.”

“I loved meeting people from all over the world,” Mortenson wrote. “I was a group leader, and several members on my team were from Egypt. It was amazing having late night conversations with educators and having a chance to talk about educational topics.”

Venegas wrote that she expects the “amazing connections and so many friendships” to last well into the future and allow everyone to bring new lessons to students. She and Mortenson also hope to increase the number of virtual field trips this year that elementary and high school students take together.

“I would personally like to do some at the high school, since last year the high school students came to do them with us at Sugar Creek,” she wrote. “I also hope to incorporate more ways for students to use technology to create and express what they learn.”

Keeping students engaged while maintaining the rigor of lessons was among Venegas’ biggest takeaways from the conference, she said.

She and Mortenson each presented during the week, as well, with Venegas talking about the virtual field trips they’ve already taken. Mortenson showed off some of her favorite educational technology at the DENovator fair, doing greenscreening activities and helping with a station for the Major League Baseball Challenge.

Mortenson came away excited to bring Discovery Education tools back to the district.

“I actually have a list of things I want to share with staff and students,” she wrote. “In addition, there are some incredible opportunities for students to participate in challenges during the upcoming school year. I can’t wait to share those with everyone.”

Contact Scott Girard at ungreporter@wcinet.com and follow him on Twitter @sgirard9.