Meet the winners of our 2009 Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards

In our ninth annual Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards, sponsored by Promethean, the Pearson Foundation, and K12 Inc., eSchool News recognizes 10 of the nation’s top K-12 executives for their outstanding ed-tech leadership and vision. Chosen by the editors of eSchool News with help from last year’s winners, these 10 exemplary leaders will be honored in a private ceremony held on Feb. 20 in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Century Club 100, an honorary organization of superintendents, during the American Association of School Administrators’ annual conference in San Francisco.

Margaret Anderson
Knob Noster R-VIII School District, Missouri

Under Anderson’s leadership, the Knob Noster School District invested more than half a million dollars to provide its high school students with laptops through a one-to-one computing initiative that is reportedly one of the first in the state.

Since Anderson became superintendent in 2004, all of the district’s schools have interactive whiteboards, and all high school teachers use tablet computers. The district’s schools also have wireless internet capabilities, and district officials are in the process of buying an online public access catalog (OPAC) so students can tap into its list of library resources from wherever they have an internet connection.

Anderson chairs the district-wide technology committee and expects technology to be used in every classroom. She has devoted professional development days to technology training and has paid teachers to attend training during the summer. She also has the district’s technology team working on a way to open up access to some blocked web sites after school hours, so students can access online games and music in a way that won’t interfere with their schoolwork.

Steven Baule
Community Unit School District 201, Illinois

When Baule came to CUSD 201 in 2005, one of the key complaints he heard from teachers was that the technology resources in the district didn’t work. Technology was a hindrance to instruction and not a support. Under Baule’s four years of leadership, that has changed.

CUSD 201 has streamlined its network processes, developed new school and district web pages, implemented online surveys to track stakeholders’ needs, hired two additional media specialists, broadened its technology team with an additional three support staff members, purchased a district-wide data management system, and added new instructional tools such as interactive whiteboards, digital document cameras, and more. The district also has implemented new student, financial, and human-resource software packages to bring it into the 21st century–and it has been one of the state’s largest users of virtual high school courses to expand its high school offerings.

New initiatives this year include blogs for teachers and administrators and computer-based adaptive testing to help measure student growth.

Baule’s background as a director of technology and a school library media specialist has provided a framework for smart technology integration and growth. Baule also is an author who has published a variety of resources related to technology.

Vince Cotter
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.”

Arthur Himmler
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.

Lorraine Lange
Roanoke County Schools, Virginia

In her nearly 40 years with Roanoke County Schools, Lange has pushed for all courses to embrace technology. When she became superintendent in 2006, she created seven goals for the county’s schools, with one focusing on using technology to improve the student learning environment and to facilitate effective communication.

As an assistant superintendent for instruction from 2000 to 2005, Lange began work to create a specialty school that provides advanced instruction in career and technical education. Her work led to the formation of the Arnold R. Burton Technology Center, and when Lange became superintendent she helped evolve the center’s focus to include arts-related instruction integrated with technology. The Burton Center for Arts and Technology sprang from this effort.

Lange also led the creation of a Virtual High School, allowing students to use two-way audio and video communication to complete course requirements and earn credit in specified subjects. In addition, she has overseen the coordination of a district-wide system of effective communication with parents, students, staff, and the community by using the Roanoke County Schools web site and a computer-driven communications program that calls parents with important information.

Larry Price
Wilson County Schools, North Carolina

Over the past decade, Price has rejuvenated Wilson County Schools, lobbying school system leaders to invest in instructional technology that has steadily raised student performance.

Since Price took the reins in 1998, the district has instituted a Summer Technology Academy, a weeklong seminar that gives educators a thorough look at what’s new in educational technology. Price also has allocated more district resources to technology, convincing officials to invest $250,000 annually in instructional technology, and he headed an effort to track student discipline infractions–an initiative that cut infractions by more than one-third over two years. He also pushed for a one-to-one laptop program at Hunt High School last year and has led the purchase of LCD projectors and interactive whiteboards for about half of all district classrooms.

Price’s record of community leadership is lengthy. He served as president of the North Carolina School Superintendents’ Association, chairman of the North Carolina Network, and chairman of the North Carolina Association of School Administrators Legislative Committee. He also was recognized as the best superintendent in North Carolina in 2006.

Tom Shelton
Daviess County Public Schools, Kentucky

Shelton has served as superintendent of Daviess County since July 2004, after nine years of service as the district’s assistant superintendent for operations. His experience in business and finance has been a tremendous asset to the district, allowing him to take a long-term view of technology investments.

Shelton believes in the seamless integration of technology in his district. All classrooms are equipped with a ceiling-mounted projector, document camera, voice amplification system, TV tuner, and VCR/DVD player. All elementary and middle schools throughout the district have the same ratio of students to computers, and high school students are involved in a one-to-one laptop computing program he has spearheaded. A portion of the professional development plan for each of the district’s 21 schools must relate to technology integration and fostering critical thinking skills among students.

Shelton keeps a blog to record his visits to schools, and he also maintains a social-networking web site to chronicle the service projects of his “Tom Squad”–a group of student leaders who meet monthly. He pioneered the use of a personnel and money-management software program that the entire state now mandates. He is fond of saying that technology should not drive instruction; instead, it’s the other way around.

Steven Stephanoff
Center Grove Community School District, Indiana

Stephanoff understands how technology can improve school administration as well as enhance student learning. After only a year and a half of his leadership at Center Grove, technology has become an integral part of the district.

Center Grove has launched a district-wide data warehouse so that teachers and administrators have full access to common assessments and student data to make informed instructional decisions. Under Stephanoff’s direction, the district also has implemented a streamlined, shared student and business/financial data system with a single database for both operations.

In December, a teacher from Center Grove Middle School North was named Indiana Computer Educators’ “Technology Teacher of the Year.” The award was a reflection of the environment that Stephanoff has created, which encourages teachers to explore new technologies and provides cutting-edge tools for them to utilize.

Stephanoff also supported the launch of a new district web site, which has role-based management, allowing students and teachers to log in for targeted information. Leading up to the 2008 elections, students participated in a mock electronic election via the new web site’s secured electronic survey feature.

Mark Weedy
Eastland/Fairfield Career and Technical Schools, Ohio

During his three-plus years at Eastland/Fairfield Career and Technical Schools, Weedy has taken the concept of learning with technology to new heights.

Each student and staff member in the district now carries a new laptop computer and has wireless access to support this initiative. During the past school year, Weedy allocated more than $325,000 to upgrade technology inside and outside of the classroom–including interactive whiteboards, student response systems, a weather station with handheld data probes for classroom use, and an interactive library system that links all of the district’s buildings.

The district now has a technology specialist to help staff support the new technology and create staff web pages and portals for online courses. Many of these new initiatives have significantly improved student engagement and communication between staff and parents.

Under Weedy’s leadership, the district annually hosts a technology in-service event, where venders and presenters are invited to the campus to demonstrate the latest in educational technology. Weedy is a regular presenter at the event, which focused this year on how to streamline time-consuming chores to save valuable instructional time.

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