Appointed superintendent of the district in 1999, Korte has been able to carry his vision to new heights. During the 1999-2000 school year, MPS created a National Technology Advisory Board, composed of nationally recognized academic and business leaders—including Cisco Systems Chairman John Morgridge—who meet twice a year to discuss the state of technology reforms in the district and recommend ways that MPS (and other urban school districts) can further improve their educational offerings. Morgridge told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that MPS has the kind of leadership needed to push technology issues, has done well in setting standards and specific expectations, and is investing in the infrastructure that is needed to implement technology efforts on a broad scale.
Since 1998, MPS has received nearly $3 million in federal Technology Literacy Challenge Fund money, enabling the district to train hundreds of middle school teachers, and has participated in the high-profile Benton Foundation study. MPS was honored to be one of two urban school districts to be selected as sites for a major study by the Benton Foundation to determine the effectiveness of technology in improving education in the classroom.
Larry Leverett, superintendent of Plainfield Public Schools in New Jersey
Leverett, who has earned a reputation as a creative leader who encourages collaboration and acceptance of responsibility among stakeholders, is leading this 7,000-student school district in a multiyear reform program.
Under Leverett’s leadership, the Plainfield community approved a $33.9 million referendum in 1996 that provided almost $4 million for district-wide technology upgrades. His high-minority district—83 percent of students are African American and 16 percent are Hispanic—also leveraged eRate discounts, a Technology Literacy Challenge Fund grant, and Access 2000 funds. The district is working with Lucent Technologies to build LANs in every building and a WAN that will connect all school buildings and—eventually—community facilities, such as the public library, municipal government, and health and social service agencies.
Under the reform plan, every classroom will have a minimum of four computers. Currently, every classroom has high-speed, filtered internet access and every staff member has an eMail account. Two middle schools have facilities to teach students technology-related skills such as robotics, desktop publishing, and weather satellite tracking. One middle school also has a television studio used to teach television production. Students at Plainfield High School can take distance-learning classes and the Cisco Networking Academy two-year program.
The district also established a 15-computer training lab for staff development. Twice a year, the district publishes a catalog that details the professional development opportunities at the lab and at the Union County Educational Technology Training Center. The district also covers the cost of tuition for teachers who take graduate courses on using instructional technology from the Fairleigh Dickinson Graduate School of Education.
Each building in the district has an on-site technology coach, and the district is moving toward having full-time technology teachers. The district also uses curriculum software from Computer Curriculum Corp. that frees teachers from burdensome paperwork, collects data on how well students are learning, and streamlines record-keeping. The software also helps students in reading, math, geography, and social studies.
Leverett has spoken on educational technology issues for the U.S. Department of Education and at several national conferences. His views on how technology can make a difference in education have been published in School Administrator and in Edutopia, a publication of the George Lucas Foundation.
James McCann, superintendent of Lamphere School District in Michigan
McCann’s 33-year career in education includes teaching and administrative experience at the elementary, middle, and high school levels of instruction. In 1980, he attended a summer institute sponsored jointly by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This institute, coupled with the realization of the importance of teaching to multiple learning styles, convinced him that his vision of learning through technology was on the right track, and he proceeded to look for ways to implement this dramatic change into the schools.
When McCann assumed the superintendency of Lamphere schools in 1986, he saw an urgent need for technology training for teachers and staff in the district. He immediately began organizing district teams to train staff in the areas of computer networking, programming, and software use. As a result, Lamphere offers specialized instructional classes for staff while maintaining an ongoing education program.