eSchool Media announces eight winners of its 2014 Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards
One is a former Gates Foundation executive whose district uses computer programming to teach essential math skills. Another has advised the Federal Communications Commission on digital textbook use. All are working to transform instruction from a passive activity to an active, more inquiry-based model that prepares students for success in a digital, information-based world.
Meet the winners of our 2014 Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards, sponsored by Lenovo. Now in its 14th year, the program honors the nation’s top K-12 superintendents who best exemplify outstanding leadership and vision in using technology to advance their district’s educational goals.
Chosen by the editors of eSchool News with help from last year’s winners, the 2014 superintendent honorees will be recognized in a series of live webinars in March. During these free webinars, scheduled for March 19th and March 26th at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time, senior-level executives from school districts nationwide will have a chance to hear from these eight winners and learn the keys to their ed-tech success.
Before becoming Ithaca City’s superintendent, Brown served as the CIO for a school system in Virginia. He has also been a teacher, assistant principal, and principal, and his experiences in all of these positions have given him broad insight into how technology can transform education.
Brown envisions creating a student body of “6,000+ Thinkers.” To meet this goal, he has enacted many initiatives, such as reducing the ratio of students to computers fivefold and adding ubiquitous wireless coverage throughout all buildings. A “Contemporary Learning Spaces” initiative seeks to redesign the district’s learning spaces, and Brown has piloted game-based learning in the elementary schools.
One key to Brown’s success is that he seeks to learn from others. For instance, a Student Advisory Council meets monthly with Brown and his cabinet. These student representatives from each school make recommendations on acceptable technology use, ed-tech purchases, and so on. Each summer, Brown hosts a national conference in Ithaca that features innovative thought leaders discussing contemporary trends in education—and he has held a series of “Community Conversations” about his district’s strategic plan among local businesses, places of worship, community centers, and even hair salons.
Since assuming leadership of the country’s 26th largest school district in July 2012 at the age of 30, Dance has focused on giving students a high-quality, comprehensive classroom experience. His vision is this: “To equip every student with the … 21st-century skills needed to be globally competitive, BCPS must ensure that every school has an equitable, effective digital learning environment and [that] every student has equitable access to learning and developing proficiency in a second language.”
To this end, Dance has started a “digital conversion” that will give each student a digital learning device by the 2017-18 school year. Dance places learning and curriculum first and aims to use technology as a tool to enhance teaching. Rather than simply buying devices and asking teachers to figure out how to use them effectively, curriculum is being rewritten to align with the Common Core and to be delivered from a digital platform. The district is a member of the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools. Dance also created a Department of Digital Learning within the Division of Curriculum and Instruction, which is charged with implementing the digital conversion and integrating technology fully into teaching and learning.