The growing influence of technology in the nation’s schools is changing our expectations of the superintendency. As schools begin to rely on computers and the internet to engage students’ interest, track their progress, and aid in decision making, an understanding of how technology works and how it can be used to transform teaching and learning is an increasingly valued characteristic for the 21st-century school executive.
In our second annual Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards, eSchool News recognizes 12 of the nation’s top K-12 executives for their leadership and vision in the area of educational technology. Chosen by the editors of eSchool News, these 12 outstanding men and women lead by their example. This year’s award winners will be honored by their peers in a ceremony during the Superintendents’ Technology Summit being held March 10-12 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Austin, Texas.
Christine M. Carter, Reed Union School District (Tiburon, Calif.)
Christine Carter has been the superintendent of the Reed Union School District since July 1998, and she is proud of the many technology accomplishments that have been realized in her district during the past four years. A laptop program for teachers was implemented two years ago, and teachers must attend a two-day workshop to pass a basic proficiency assessment. They are each given a laptop at the completion of the two days of training; to date, 98 percent of the district’s teaching staff participates in the program.
eMail is used widely at Reed schools, and homework, weekly school newsletters, and employment applications are now posted on the district’s web site. To further support the use of technology, each school in the district has a full-time technology teacher whose role is to assist, train, and support staff members.
The district’s technology plan has been revised to incorporate technology standards, and its new facilities plan was written to reflect the kind of infrastructure that buildings will need to accommodate future technologies. Most recently, the district’s Bel Aire Elementary School received the National Blue Ribbon Schools Special Honors in Technology award.
In 1998, Carter was named Placer County’s Administrator of the Year in Curriculum and Instruction. Prior to 1998, she served in the Roseville City School District as a kindergarten, fourth, and fifth grade teacher, vice principal, principal, and the assistant superintendent of instructional services.
Rudy M. Castruita, San Diego County (Calif.) Office of Education
The San Diego County Office of Education is a regional service agency for 42 school districts, 600 schools, and nearly 500,000 students. County Superintendent Rudy Castruita brought a vision of technology with him when he arrived at the San Diego County Office in 1994, after five years as superintendent in Santa Ana Unified, California’s fifth largest district.
“Technology can enlighten our minds and expand our worlds,” Castruita has written. “It can motivate, inspire, and—most importantly—dramatically accelerate learning.” Castruita co-founded the Superintendents’ Technology Advisory Committee, which supports countywide technology development and disseminates best practices. In 1997, he opened the Joe Rindone Regional Technology Center, one of the foremost centers for K-12 educational computing in the United States. Financed by $1 million in seed money from the state of California and corporate partners, the center serves as a regional hub for videoconferencing, staff development, and state-of-the-art computing.
Castruita is also on the advisory board of the prestigious Education Research and Development Institute, and he remains committed to meeting the everyday needs of school districts and teachers. Castruita’s office provides broadband connectivity to all 42 local districts, offering DS3 connections directly to the internet. Castruita is as enthusiastic about technology today as he was a decade ago. “‘No limits’ is still our motto,” he said.