eSchool News’ 2002 Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards

Stu Silberman, Daviess County (Ky.) Public Schools

Stu Silberman leads by example. Each week he sends district updates to several thousand parents via eMail. He keeps in constant touch with the board, staff, and public by monitoring his phone calls and eMails with his personal digital assistant (PDA). His staff members say he has inspired every administrator in the district to purchase a PDA, and some have found very creative uses for the devices—such as monitoring bus arrivals and departures.

Last year, Silberman started every administrative meeting with a technology lesson intended to make principals more productive, and board meetings begin with student-created PowerPoint presentations or movies that showcase what’s happening in classrooms. All 18 schools regularly contribute student-edited videos to be aired on a local public access channel.

Through the district’s Graduation 2010 program, Silberman is using technology to teach students musical keyboarding, chess, and Spanish beginning in kindergarten. The district receives 1,000 visitors each year to see the Graduation 2010 program in action, and the program has been featured nationally on NBC’s Today Show.

Keith Sockwell, Northwest Independent School District (Justin, Texas)

Sockwell became superintendent of Northwest Independent School District in January 2000 and has championed technology initiatives and accountability measures ever since. Last October, Northwest became one of the first school districts in the country to link teachers’ salaries to their ability to demonstrate certain technology skills. The new regulation mandates that within five years all teachers must complete three levels of technology proficiency, eventually learning advanced skills such as web-page building. At the end of five years, teachers who do not possess the required technology proficiencies would no longer be eligible for annual salary increases.

Sockwell strongly supports continued learning for all staff. All employee groups have developed technology proficiency plans that identify appropriate technology skills critical to each job responsibility. Northwest ISD offers a strong technology infrastructure that supports the transmission of voice and data, and the district boasts a 2.5 to 1 student-to-computer ratio, with eMail and internet access at every desktop in the district. In addition, mobile wireless laptop units offer students anytime, anywhere access to resources.

A recently passed $85 million bond package will renovate all facilities and includes significant technological upgrades to improve district processes. An online curriculum also is being developed to provide staff and students with instant access to instructional resources.

Ray Yeagley, Rochester (N.H.) Public Schools

When Ray Yeagley became superintendent of the Rochester Public Schools 14 years ago, he immediately began training teachers to use computers in the classroom to improve student learning. Yeagley’s district has adopted a matrix outlining the technology skills teachers should have, and technology-proficient teachers run summer training programs for 25 to 30 other teachers each year.

To save money, Yeagley had a local cable company and other businesses partly donate and install a high-speed network for all of the district’s buildings, the public library, and some government facilities. With the network in place, the district bought a computer for each classroom and several computers for libraries and computer labs; these computers are upgraded every few years.

Outside of his district, Yeagley worked with the National Forum on Education Statistics to help create a server for electronically transferring student records between other schools, colleges, and universities. He also directed the creation of a job site in his state where prospective teachers could search for openings and submit their resumes online, and he is a tireless champion of data-driven decision making in schools.

Julie Young, The Florida Virtual School (Orlando, Fla.)

In 1997, Julie Young pioneered the launch of the Florida Virtual School with the goal of providing high-quality, online courses to students throughout the state of Florida. Today, her vision has created one of the leading providers of accredited, internet-based curriculum for students throughout the world.

Young is an educator, an educational administrator, and an expert in technology-supported instruction. She serves on numerous boards, including the Florida Governor’s Internet Task Force and the Southern Regional Education Board’s Distance Learning Task Force. She is the winner of the prestigious 1999 United States Distance Learning Association’s Most Outstanding Achievement by an Individual Award for K-12, as well as the 2001 NetDay Hero Award.

As an educator, Young has guided her career by the belief that all students can learn. Her philosophy is key to the success of the award-winning courses offered by the Florida Virtual School. Prior to pioneering the online school, Young held several administrative positions and coordinated innovative projects for developing technology-enhanced curriculum.

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