News + People
Employee Spotlight: Sara Dittman
Participate Learning is a force for good that connects teachers and students through global education programs to foster human understanding and create peace. Our many offerings—from global leaders to ambassador teachers to dual language programs—require support from all of our departments in order to achieve our mission of uniting our world through global learning. But who is tasked with the job of supporting these staff members?
Our dedicated staff services team does just that and more. These creative and innovative individuals build relationships amongst staff members and ambassador teachers through planning events that foster community within the Participate Learning family. Read on to learn more about Sara Dittman, senior event planner on our staff services team.
A Day in the Life
Prior to joining Participate Learning in 2016, Sara had many years of experience working in a variety of positions within the hospitality industry, which provided her with a well-rounded knowledge of how events are planned from the perspective of the venue and vendor. Now, her role at Participate Learning allows her to see the other side of event planning as she hires vendors and requests proposals. Through this experience, she has learned how to best communicate information and build connections based on mutual respect with vendors.
Her role as senior event planner at Participate Learning changes depending on the time of year, but her main responsibilities focus on organizing teacher orientation, sales conferences, and internal staff events. Currently, she and the teacher experience team are gearing up for another summer orientation season, which consists of planning meetings, communicating with vendors, and a lot of spreadsheets. There are many little details that go into pulling the events together, so she has to stay extremely organized as she plans.
Typically, the most challenging and rewarding part of her job are one in the same—coordinating all of the elements that play into each other to create a successful event. However, this year has been quite different with the pandemic as in-person events came to a halt. Planning events and considering the various logistics that go into them, while also adding a virtual component, is difficult when there is a lot of uncertainty around what is actually feasible.
For a few years now, it has been a goal of Sara’s to implement an event app into orientation. This year will be the first where she actually gets to incorporate this into summer orientation events, and she is really looking forward to seeing it in action! With most people typically having their cell phones close by, Sara believes that they should be using this to their advantage. This app will be a great resource for ambassador teachers to share information and communicate with Participate Learning staff as well as other ambassador teachers throughout orientation.
In the future, Sara hopes to continue broadening her expertise with projects and events. She has set a goal toward receiving her Certified Meeting Management certification, which is a master’s-level course that dives deeper into the business side of event management. Obtaining this certification would provide her with a diversified skill set in events and give her a deeper understanding of how the events she plans can be used as a business advantage for Participate Learning.
Sara believes that our purpose as an organization of uniting our world through global learning holds a powerful message, especially given the events that have happened in the world over the last year. Our mission exemplifies how crucial it is to start building a foundation with students from a young age, so they have the empathy and understanding needed to embrace and celebrate differences in individuals.
As one of the first people to interact with teachers during their arrival orientation, Sara has the amazing opportunity to meet people from all over the world and see firsthand the relationship-building and mutual respect for other cultures that is evident in the interactions between Participate Learning staff and ambassador teachers. She loves being a part of something powerful that has the potential to change the world for the better!
When considering some of her fondest memories with Participate Learning, Sara reflected,
“One holiday season we had an event with hot chocolate and cookies with Santa at the office. We invited staff to bring their children and all join in for a fun afternoon activity. He did magic tricks, sang, and even told the story of the Night Before Christmas. It was so captivating that I remember looking around the room and everyone was locked in on the story. It was a simple event, but it was such a fun one!”
Thanks to the hard work of employees like Sara and the entire staff services team, our staff and ambassador teachers have the support they need to build meaningful relationships with students, partners, and each other. For more information on how you can connect with us, join our United We Teach Community of Practice and follow us on social media.