Eric Williams
York County School Division
Virginia

Williams guides decisions for using technology to enhance teaching and learning with a collaboratively developed vision that emphasizes both rigor and student engagement. To improve students’ access to technology, he has revised board policy to allow for student cell-phone usage for instructional purposes; pushed central office staff to give students and staff access to Skype, Google Docs, and screencasting tools for meeting, sharing, and broadcasting content; and is finalizing efforts to allow students to access York County’s network using their own laptops and other mobile devices.

Williams supported the creation of a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure that will allow teachers and students to use network applications anytime, anywhere. He also led the expansion of York County’s virtual learning program. In addition to providing more than 60 virtual courses taught by York County teachers, Williams has encouraged the blending of live and virtual instruction at the secondary-school level—and all high school-level courses taken by middle school students for credit now have a virtual component embedded in the course. As a result of his leadership in virtual learning, Williams has met with state officials to discuss online-learning legislation that subsequently was adopted by the state legislature.

With regard to professional development, Williams supported the introduction of an instructional content repository so teachers can share lessons, activities, and assessments. He also promoted greater understanding of the link between digital technologies, engagement, and rigor by convening a Leadership Academy that featured Alan November, and he expanded the notion of “leadership” by including teachers and ed-tech facilitators in this academy. In addition, Williams has ensured the equitable distribution of technology by allocating stimulus funds to all schools to purchase peripherals, software, and web-based resources using a formula that provided additional funds for high-need schools. He also successfully requested $100,000 from a private donor to establish an endowment for technology and initiated a campaign for matching funds with assistance from local Parent-Teacher Associations.

Williams models the effective use of technology by routinely using GoogleDocs, Ning, and other Web 2.0 tools to work collaboratively with staff, and he promotes the use of technology to streamline business operations as well, such as a web-based system for parents to pay for and monitor their children’s school meals; a web-based school registration process; and the use of GPS technology on school buses to enhance safety and efficiency.