Name: Gail Potratz
Family details: Gail and her husband, Phil, have three adult children—two daughters and a son—and eight grandchildren.
Teaching ministry: Gail began her ministry at St. Matthew, Benton Harbor, Mich. She then spent 13 years out of the full-time ministry as she raised her children. She notes, “Those 13 years of teaching/raising my children at home were the best years of my career. I cherish them.”
When her youngest started school full time, Gail began serving as a sixth grade teacher at Emanuel, New London, Wis., and was introduced to the world of computer technology, which, she notes “was just coming into its own in education.”
Potratz says, “My second career began to take shape as I saw the power of engagement in learning that these devices made possible. I attended every workshop I could to learn more about how to teach with technology and started adding the classroom collection of COWs – computers on wheels. Within a couple years I had our first Internet connection installed in my classroom—dial-up phone line! Soon I became the technology person at Emanuel, and Mr. Vetter, my principal, let me start building a real network. He also encouraged me when I decided to go back to school and get a degree in instructional technology.”
Potratz now presents on instructional technology in many different venues, including WELStech podcasting and at Martin Luther College and other universities as an adjunct professor.
“My favorite part of teaching has been helping teachers see the possibilities that project-based and inquiry-learning offer to kids and how technology can expand that beyond the classroom walls,” Potratz concludes. “I guess my favorite part was actually when I was in my own classroom doing that kind of teaching and learning. I saw how important it was to expand that and spiral it, just like any curriculum in a school, so I began as the technology director at Emanuel.”
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