Trained custodians installed miles of cable and wiring to the classrooms, which provided a sophisticated network and, at the same time, saved the district a considerable amount of money. The savings made it possible to offer teachers an initial two-week, district-sponsored training program. In return for this professional development opportunity, each participant was given a computer and printer for their personal use. This program was a tremendous success, with 98 percent of the staff participating. Students benefited from the staff’s enthusiasm and computers became an integral part of classroom instruction.
McCann’s philosophy—”We don’t take our students to pencil labs when we want them to write, so why treat computers any differently?”—is the main reason computers were placed in classrooms rather than clustered in media centers. After the computers were in place, each building was linked with a distributed network. This sophisticated network, completed without the work of expensive consultants, planners, and engineers, had the district online before the books on networking were written. The district’s installation of the internet put Lamphere on the education technology map. Since that time, Lamphere has received many awards, honors, and recognition as an education and technology leader.
In 1996, through McCann’s leadership, Lamphere Schools created the classroom of the 21st century when it became the JASON Project’s Primary Interactive Network (PIN) site for the state of Michigan, one of only 30 sites in the world. Lamphere was chosen as a PIN site because it had the technology infrastructure necessary to implement and deliver this state-of-the-art program to students. The JASON Project, founded by Dr. Robert Ballard, discoverer of the R.M.S. Titanic, is an innovative multidisciplinary curriculum that creates just-in-time learning for students, breaking down the walls of the classroom. As the host of the JASON Project for the last four years, Lamphere Schools has helped thousands of Michigan students to experience exciting scientific adventures, live, as they happened.
McCann is a graduate of the University of Michigan and has served as district superintendent in Madison Heights, Mich., for the past 15 years.
Robert Reeves, superintendent of Poway Unified School District in California
Reeves, the superintendent at Poway USD for 26 years, has championed the equity of resources by continually finding ways for all students to be afforded the same educational opportunities. Under his leadership, a commitment to the mission of “all students learning, whatever it takes” has permeated this suburban school district of 32,000 students.
Reeves initially shared his vision for instructional technology with the school board, staff members, and community and business leaders in the early 1980s. The involvement and support of the board and the extended school community helped make Poway, the 25th largest school district in California, a leader in implementing technology to assist students in reaching their fullest potential, not only within the district, but also throughout the county.
During his time as superintendent, Reeves has established in-district “technology lottery” grants for innovative projects. Under his watch, the Poway staff has participated in a professional development system connecting curriculum, instruction, and assessment with state and local standards. Instruction is interdisciplinary, and technology skills are taught and learned in the context of projects. Integrated, authentic assessments of performance in instructional strategies are used to measure teachers’ skill levels, and teachers also learn to use performance data to personalize learning for all students.
Under Reeves’ leadership, the district has brought internet connections to every classroom and used technology “mentor teachers” to help train other staff members. Poway has created virtual classes, which have extended to include other school districts’ students, as well as animation and video classes at the high-school level. Reeves also has worked with the city of Poway and the San Diego County Office of Education to create a television link that will allow high-quality video teleconferencing capabilities, and he has increased home-school communication with teacher web sites and parent internet access.
Reeves’ commitment to a dynamic learning environment for students extends beyond Poway USD. He is the cofounder and current cochair of the San Diego County Superintendent’s Technology Advisory Committee, formed to support technology development for all 43 public school districts in San Diego County. Reeves has spoken about the use of technology in education at the California School Board Association’s annual conference, the National School Boards Association’s Technology + Learning Conference, and the Education Technology Business Conference Board in Washington, D.C.
Jayne Sargent, superintendent of Jackson Public School District in Mississippi
Sargent’s vision for high-quality schools has translated into a revamped professional development program, targeted intervention for poor-performing students and schools, and a forward-looking technology plan for her district. Her belief that data should drive the district’s plans for improvement has resulted in a major investment in technology to improve student achievement and the delivery of instruction.
The district’s technology network, the Learning Connection, gives administrators, teachers, students, and parents instantaneous data and the ability to stay connected by sending voice, video, and data over a single communications pipeline. In April, Sargent and her district were recognized in Washington, D.C., by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History for this innovative technology network.