Despite the tragedy that’s befallen his district, Hoyle says his vision has not changed. Technology, he says, is “the great equalizer” in providing a high-quality education for every child. This vision is reflected in district-wide efforts to establish multiple instructional computer labs equipped with the latest web-based educational software and internet access delivered by a wireless broadband network.
Prior to the disaster, all students hade their own personal accounts on the network with their own digital storage capabilities. Interactive whiteboards and LCD projectors connected to a networked classroom computer were in use in all third-, fourth-, and seventh- through 11th-grade classrooms. As they rebuild, Hoyle said, the goal is to install these boards in every classroom. Throughout the district, students also have access to digital cameras, global positioning systems, wireless laptops, and technologically advanced libraries. Before Katrina, the district had a student-to-computer ratio of 3 to 1.
To make sure teachers are prepared to integrate the technology effectively, every teacher in the district participated in the INTECH program, a 56-hour intensive professional development experience where they learned how to integrate technology into their classrooms. Instructional technology facilitators and IT staff provided just-in-time support. The result was an environment where teachers were not only excited about enhancing their teaching skills and the delivery of the curriculum using technology, but also using technology to communicate with parents, record grades, and keep daily attendance.
It’s going to take some time, but Hoyle believes the commitment still is there. With dedication and strong leadership, he says, Plaquemines is making a comeback. “Although Hurricane Katrina has destroyed two-thirds of our schools and millions of dollars worth of the school system’s technology, it has not taken our vision and our resolve,” said Hoyle, who added, “Technology will be an integral component in the rebuilding of our schools.”
Steve McAllister has taught and been an administrator in Maine, Alaska, Arizona, and Iowa. He is presently the superintendent of schools in Danville, Iowa, a position he has held since 1998. He has also been the district’s technology coordinator since 2000.
Steve McAllister has been superintendent of the Danville Community School District in Iowa since 1998. When McAllister first arrived in Danville, the district had limited technology available. A basic network was in place, consisting of a router and multiple hubs. The district had no servers, limited software, and very few computers. In addition, most administrative tasks were all done by hand.
Owing to budget cuts in 2000, McAllister took over the duties of technology coordinator in addition to his role of superintendent of the district, a position for which he received no extra compensation until 2005. Under his direction, McAllister saw that the technology infrastructure was completely revamped, and the district is now considered to have one of the most state-of-the-art technology departments in the area. Hubs were replaced with high-speed switches throughout the network, and fiber optics were installed to connect them. A new server room was constructed, with five new servers installed for eMail, web service, student information systems (SIS), library automation, and administration. A district web site was established in 2003, and since then 160 new client Apple Macintosh machines, all running on OS X 10.9.3 or higher, also have been added.
The district uses Chancery’s MacSchool SIS to make grading and reporting paperless. McAllister also spearheaded the installation of two new science labs, with all lab stations wired to support laptops. He has helped the district build a new career center and a new media and tech center; both feature computer labs with 12 stations. Plus, mini computer labs have been established for math and reading instruction for the elementary grades.
In addition to his duties as superintendent, McAllister carries out IT administrative duties, remotely assisting and troubleshooting throughout the network using Apple Remote Desktop. The staff and students of the Danville Community School District say McAllister has provided them with many opportunities through his dedication to technology and education that a district so small would not regularly enjoy.
John Morton has been superintendent of the Newton, Kansas, Public Schools for six years. He was recently named Kansas 2006 Superintendent of the Year.
Leveling the technology playing field is the guiding vision of John Morton, superintendent of the Newton Public Schools in Kansas. He has scheduled early-stage conversations with the public and private sectors and operators of state education network KAN-ed to make a town of 20,000 a wireless community. Though as a mid-size district, Newton’s state funding lags behind 95 percent of Kansas’ other communities, its schools are bounding forward in integrating technology into learning and living.