Here are six tips from Lesley Robinson about developing a local technology program, based on her experience with the Laurel Online program that has secured computers, T-1 links, and training for 10 schools:
- You need funds to get funds. “With funds in hand, you look like a proven commodity, so you’ve got to get that initial financial support,” Robinson said.
- Don’t give up seeking funds. “Doors may be slammed in your face, but another door will open,” she said.
- Aim high. “Over and over again, I heard that our program was too big,” said Robinson. “Sure, it would have been easier to do something just for our high school, but it wouldn’t have been as effective for our kids. You just can’t assume that a student will be proficient with technology in high school if he or she hasn’t been introduced well before that time.”
- Build a network of partners. “This has been critical to our success,” she said. “Schools can’t be isolated in one corner of the community if we are to serve the community.”
- Seek publicity. “I’d almost call the local newspaper another partner in our project,” said Robinson. “They wrote so many articles about us that it drew attention to the program and reminded people how integral schools are to their communities.”
- Committed people get things done. Although Robinson is too modest to say this about herself, every other person connected with the project says that she is the reason it succeeded. “Lesley Robinson is a doer,” said Laurel Mayor Frank Casula.