SchoolCIO Profile: Dexter Suggs

5/30/2013 8:20:00 PM

Quick Bio

Name: Dexter Suggs
Title: Superintendent
District: Little Rock (AR) School
District (http://www.lrsd.org)

Dexter Suggs was the CIO for Indianapolis Public Schools for two-and-a-half years, and then chief of staff/deputy superintendent for the district for one year. Beginning in July, he will be the new superintendent for the Little Rock (AR) School District. SchoolCIO talked about his transition from CIO to superintendent, the changes he oversaw at Indianapolis, and his goals for Arkansas.

Tell us about some of the technology initiatives you worked on in Indianapolis.

The first major initiative was implementing a 1:1 program. We handed out netbooks to 9,000 9th-12th-grade students. We also did a smaller 1:1 program rollout with 2nd- and 3rd-graders at select schools receiving iPads. Our point for these projects was to create an environment where students move beyond the traditional classroom and engage in educational opportunities after school and at home. We used ANGEL (now Blackboard) as an LMS to create a 24/7 environment where students could communicate with their teachers. The 1:1 program helped improve test scores at some schools, but more important—student engagement improved. Students had that hook they needed to achieve.

Talk us through the iPad process.

During the summer, we had an intense, five-day training for the iPad teachers to share their ideas. The training was mandatory and unpaid, but the teachers wanted to get the iPads so they came willingly. Some days they wanted to stay longer because they were so engaged in the rich, meaningful work. We rolled out the iPads in September 2011, and it went extremely well. To this day, these teachers are still engaged. One school is planning to convert some of the other grades levels and another is looking for grants and loans to get more iPads.

After being CIO, you were promoted to chief of staff. Talk with us about this transition and if you continued to work on technology projects.

For the chief of staff role, I had more responsibility. I took care of day-to-day operations in the district, including IT. I still had my hands in the IT stuff. We were in the midst of creating a VMWare environment to reduce the costs of replacing desktops and to be more resourceful in pushing software and apps throughout the district. We created a virtual environment in our data warehouse.

And then Little Rock came calling?

The search firm representing the Little Rock School District recruited me to apply for the superintendent position, and fortunately I got hired. I think it had a lot to do with my background and serving in a number of different positions. Little Rock does not have a 1:1 program yet, but we will have something. We’ll find the best platform for the environment. I don’t believe in cookie-cutter solutions. Will it be 1:1, blended, virtual learning, or a combination? They have iPads but not to the extent where it should be with true integration.

In Indianapolis, we were working on getting rid of textbooks and using online resources. I’ll be looking into that at Little Rock, too. I’m a strong advocate of technology. I know what it can do to improve engagement and allow students to create a richer, diverse, authentic environment for learning.

Clearly you’ve learned a lot about leadership. Any tips to share with our readers?

One of the major things to understand is the importance of communication—both speaking and listening. You have to know the needs of your environment and become attuned to what people want. Don’t just push your ideas. Make sure everyone is at the table and engaged. I hear about districts that want to implement a 1:1 program and everyone is at the table except the IT people. You can’t do that.

Taking risks is also important. Sometimes we sit back and wait and don’t want to change things, but you have to take risks sometimes. In Indianapolis we created a virtual environment at a time when no one in K-12 had done anything on that large a scale, and it benefited us greatly.

Want to read more stories like this?

Get our Free Newsletter Here!

comments powered by Disqus
Tweets
Photo GalleriesView All Galleries >
Acer C720-2844 Chromebook

(www.acer.com) The Acer C720-2844 Chromebook model delivers speedy performance, a quick boot time of seven seconds, and a matte anti-glare display tha...

Britannica ImageQuest

(www.britannica.com) Britannica Digital Learning has upgraded ImageQuest, a resource for schools and libraries that provides nearly three million rig...

ClassFlow

(www.classflow.com) Promethean has released ClassFlow, a free, all-in-one, cloud-based teaching tool that lets teachers create and deliver interactive...

Adobe Voice

(www.adobe.com) Adobe has released Adobe Voice, an animated video app for the iPad that lets users create and share video stories. The app incorporate...

DeskBoard

(www.boxlight.com) The BOXLIGHT DeskBoard mobile cart adjusts both height and tilt for the P8 ultra short throw interactive projector on a white surfa...

Core 36M

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has introduced Core 36M, a 36-unit charging cart that is optimized for Chromebooks but which also supports most tablets, l...

Edmentum Sensei

(www.edmentum.com) Edmentum Sensei is a mobile optimized solution that helps administrators visualize and track overall school, teacher, and student p...

HMH Player

(www.hmhco.com) HMH has released HMH Player, a new native app for iOS and Google Chrome that streamlines the learning experience for improved digital ...

Juice Power System

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has unveiled an easy-to-use modular power system with exchangeable power components. The Juice Power System uses unique &#...

LightSail

(www.lightsailed.com) LightSail Education has announced a literacy accelerator that combines books with in-text embedded assessments and real-time dat...

myON

(www.myon.com) myON has expanded its digital library to include a set of literacy tools to further personalize the reading experience for students whi...

Nervanix Clarity

(www.nervanix.com) Nervanix has released Clarity, an application that monitors student attention levels as they study and guides them to revisit conce...

MathBall

(www.robotslab.com) RobotsLAB has introduced MathBall, a smart sensor basketball and tablet system that offers curricula in algebra, pre-calculus, phy...

MobileAsset.EDU

(www.waspbarcode.com) Wasp Barcode’s MobileAsset.EDU solutions include everything administrators need to account for their assets, from software...

OpenEd Assessment Creation Tool

(www.opened.io) OpenEd has announced a free tool that lets teachers easily create assessments with the question types required by Common Core standard...

Panasonic TH-80LFB70U

(www.panasonic.com) Panasonic’s TH-80LFB70U interactive LED display features high-speed, multi-touch, interactive capabilities to promote partic...

penveu interactive display system

(www.penveu.com) The penveu interactive display system is a handheld device that turns projectors and large screen displays into interactive whiteboar...

PresentationPro

(www.califone.com) Califone has updated its PresentationPro speaker. The PA310 readily connects with computers, LCD projectors, mobile devices, intera...

PowerSync+ Mobile Companion App

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has announced the availability of the companion app for its PowerSync+ enabled charge and sync produc...

PureCharge Carts and Stations for iPad

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has debuted the PureCharge family of iPad and iPad mini charging carts and stations. By offering pre-i...

ProQuest Research Companion

(www.proquest.com) ProQuest’s new information literacy product, Research Companion, offers videos that guide users through the research process,...

Sphere2 & Class Send Student Engagement Software Platform

(www.averusa.com) AVer Information has developed a Student Engagement platform, providing teachers and students with the tools to transmit document ca...

TabChargeCT2

(www.averusa.com) AVer has released the TabChargeCT2 charge cart solution, which can hold up to 40 Chromebooks, iPads, Android or Windows tablets, lap...

VoiceLift with Instant Alert and Emergency Video Monitoring

(www.extron.com) The Instant Alert function of the Extron VoiceLift Microphone, combined with a PoleVault, WallVault, or PlenumVault classroom AV sys...

SMART Board 6065

(www.smarttech.com) The SMART Board 6065 is an ultra HD, 4K interactive flat panel that offers collaborative capabilities while ensuring lessons run s...

Gaggle Unity Partner Program

(www.gaggle.net) The new Gaggle Unity Partner Program provides free data integration services for all educational technology vendors. Through the Gagg...

Waterford Early Learning, Reading, Math & Science

(www.waterford.org) Waterford Early Learning Cloud can be used at home or to supplement lessons in classrooms. It can also be used for individual adap...

NetSupport School

(www.netsupportschool.com) The latest version of NetSupport School allows teachers to monitor and collaborate with any mix of technology. An enhanced ...

Camtasia

(www.techsmith.com/camtasia) TechSmith’s Camtasia gives teachers the tools to record lessons, create videos, and engage their audiences. Educato...

Panasonic 3E

(www.panasonic.com) Intel has teamed up with Panasonic to announce the Panasonic 3E, which uses the Intel Education 2-in-1 reference design. Designed ...

Boston