Colonial School District, Pennsylvania
Under Cotter’s leadership, Colonial has drawn national acclaim for its data-driven approach to curriculum, use of personalized instruction, and cutting-edge technology.
Since he became superintendent in December 2000, student achievement has improved dramatically, thanks in large part to his “Above and Beyond Plan,” which calls on school leaders to use data in making instructional decisions. Once rated near the bottom of Montgomery County’s 21 public school districts, Colonial is now considered among the county’s best. The seven Colonial schools met or exceeded all Adequate Yearly Progress targets for the 2007-08 school year, and participation in Advanced Placement classes has dramatically increased.
Through sizable grants and board funds, every classroom in the district is equipped with interactive whiteboards, projectors, high-powered digital overhead presenters, and document cameras. Video conferencing capability and at least one computer lab also exists in each building. The district’s Plymouth Whitemarsh High School is equipped with wireless technology and by the end of the current school year will have more than 800 wireless laptops in use by students each day. Wireless technology soon will be installed in other district buildings as well, and teachers are being taught how to incorporate the technology effectively into their daily lessons.
Richard A. DiPatri
Brevard Public Schools, Florida
DiPatri is working closely with the Brevard school board to bring equitable technology access to every school in the district within the next two years. The model for this effort, which has brought new technologies to 80 percent of Brevard’s schools, is the school system’s “Sunrise Standard”–named for the district’s newest, most technology-rich elementary school.
Each classroom at Sunrise Elementary is equipped with document cameras, laptop computers, high-speed internet access, digital projectors, sound amplification systems, and interactive software tools to make lesson plans come alive. Connecting teachers and students to 21st-century, Web 2.0 learning environments, the “Sunrise Standard” is transforming the teaching and learning process throughout Brevard schools.
DiPatri has modified school and district staffing plans to ensure that each school has a full-time, highly qualified technology associate and has authorized the use of eight district-level technology integrators to support teachers’ professional development needs–providing educators with the training necessary for using technology effectively in their instruction. This professional development is paying dividends: More than 90 percent of Brevard teachers are now considered “technology proficient.”
Steilacoom Historical School District No. 1, Washington
Himmler has been known as one of the foremost technology advocates in Washington state since assuming the superintendency at Steilacoom in the early 1990s, and in that time his district has ushered in a new era in classroom technology.
One of Himmler’s first hires as superintendent was a networking specialist to build LANs for each of the district’s facilities and a WAN to link all sites together. In tandem with building network infrastructure, he made sure that appropriate student and administrative computers were installed in all of the district’s seven schools and support facilities. Each staff member found a computer on his or her desk and attended workshops on how to use technology to enhance instruction–and the district’s technology infrastructure has continued to evolve with the times: A new voice-over-IP system now allows for ubiquitous communications district-wide.
Steilacoom has introduced parents, teachers, and students to a program called Parent Connection, which allows parents to view grades, attendance records, library fines, and other information in a secure, online environment. The district’s new middle school and remodeled high school now provide instruction via interactive whiteboards, and Himmler has formed an instructional technology committee charged with developing a new scope for how students can use technology throughout their school years and into adulthood.