The Great Connector

I would not have known this except that our mutual friend Peter Beens (@pbeens) brought it to my attention and suggested that I blog about it.  I didn’t have to think twice before agreeing.

“The OTF Curriculum Forum provides professional interaction among the subject, division and special interest associations as well as between the associations and OTF. The forum also provides an active and important liaison between the associations and the Ministry of Education.” –

I had no idea that the Ontario Teachers’ Federation even had a Curriculum Forum until I was invited to speak to the Forum at one of their gatherings.  It was a two day event and I couldn’t afford the time away from work to go up on the Friday but I agreed to make the trek from Windsor to Barrie after work so that I could address the group on the Saturday.  My original invitation was to join a group of educators that were called the “Geek Squad”.  I agreed to go on two provisions – first the name had to go (it’s used and probably copyrighted by a big chain store) and I didn’t really consider what we were about to do as geeky, but more of contemporary.  I still get the term thrown in my face whenever I meet with Cyndie Jacobs (@cyndiejacobs) who is the OTF coordinator for the Curriculum Forum.

So, I made the trip and got a fabulous opportunity to work with some of the great educational leaders in the province.

That single event kicked off a number of technology related professional learning events hosted by the Ontario Teachers’ Federation and you may have read about them if you’re a frequent reader of this blog.  Throughout the events, that I attended, there were a number of consistencies and certainly one of them was Cyndie.  From “Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century”, “Minds on Media” to the “Google Workshop for Educators” , leading edge opportunities were made available to Ontario Educators through a team at OTF and Cyndie was an integral part of it all.  Throughout, Cyndie’s vision of this “squad” brought a number of us back together to work along side with other Ontario colleagues so that things would go off without a hitch.

Back in the beginning, Cyndie wasn’t a big social media user but I and those in attendance at Barrie at the time like to think that we brought her into the fold.  Through constant prodding by Peter and the odd connection with me and goodness knows who else, Cyndie dove in with two feet.  Now, there are many ways that one can use social media but I once called her “The Great Connector” because she solves so many problems for others – not by any technology solution that she might offer herself but in her uncanny ability to know the best in the province and who to connect with for the solution.  Her use of Twitter, in particular, is exemplary.  She’s constantly leveraging her knowledge and abilities and the abilities of others towards problem solving and solution finding.  It’s unusual to find a day in the life where her presence isn’t noticed and appreciated.

Personally, we’ve grown to be friends and when there’s an event where we might possible meet up, we check in advance to make some plans.  These meetings have been so personally productive for me.  I think that Cyndie completely “gets it” and understands the impact of her reach.  And, yet, it’s never for ego or for selfish purposes; it’s just her doing the right thing to help colleagues become better in their profession.  There have been a couple of bumps along the way that I know of where she ran into big egos and it hurt her deeply.  But, she continues to seek solutions for others who are just working to be the best they can be in education.  What better tribute could a person ask?

So, why this post?  Thanks to Peter, it has come to my attention that Cyndie will be hosting her last Curriculum Forum this week.  Sooner than she knows, she’ll be leaving this wonderful profession and will be looking for other things.  I know that her deep interest in music and the arts is a first love but it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that she’s decided to run for political office at some level.  She has, at least, promised to start a blog and stay in touch with her friends.

Cyndie, there are lots of us who have appreciated all the work that you’ve done to pull together the sort of technological leadership that is now available in all subject disciplines in this province.




I hope that your last Curriculum Form is special and that this post is but a small part of the recognition of what you had done by making all the connections that you have and continue to make.  You’ve done a masterful job and I’ll bet that Peter is the first commenter on this post.  We both wish you all the best in that beautiful new home on the lake and wherever your future takes you.



  1. I met Cyndie maybe 7 or 8 years ago when I first attended an OTF Curriculum Forum meeting as the representative for ACSE, the Association for Computer Studies Educators ( I was blown away at how knowledgeable and professional this group of teachers was, and was incredibly honoured that I had the opportunity to be among them. For the first years I just hid in the background and observed, trying to get a lay of the land and understand how the politics of a group like this works. It didn’t take very long though to learn that it was Cyndie who was the heart of this organization, the one that would push us to do amazing things with our subject associations.

    Sadly, Cyndie is retiring soon from OTF, and like you mention, is hosting her last Curriculum Forum meeting this weekend. I will miss her leadership tremendously, so much so that I’m not sure I’ll stay on as part of the Curriculum Forum Steering Committee after she leaves. She is the leader that fights for the funding and for the professional development of the Curriculum Forum members so that we can better serve the members of our subject associations. Without her leadership, I’m worried that the group won’t have the same priority for the decision makers above, and the group, along with all the support they offer subject associations, will dissolve.

    You’re right that she was a problem solver for teachers on twitter. She was constantly forwarding tweets to the experts who could provide solutions. Her twitter presence was such a constant that once, when she hadn’t tweeted for a day or so, I thought something must have happened to her, and sent a tweet out asking if anyone had heard from her. Fortunately, she was okay and apologized later that she couldn’t keep in touch with her “tweeps”!

    Doug, it was inevitable that the two of you would meet, because I can’t think of two people that have done more for the professional development of teachers in this province than the two of you. I thank you immensely for writing this amazing tribute to Cyndie, and I know that she will be touched.


  2. WOW!! Doug, I’m speechless – and that is rare for me! Thank you, thank you, thank you. All I can say after reading this awesome tribute is… WOW!


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