Ed Tech Leader of the Year 2004


Technology & Learning publisher Jo-Ann McDevitt presents award plaques to the 2004 Ed Tech Leaders (right to left): Lane Mills, Katheryn Housepian, Jim Hirsch, and Rosemary Stifter.

Michael Milone, a longtime writer and advisor for Technology & Learning, works with schools and publishers on technology implementation.

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By Michael Milone

National Winner

Rosemary Stifter

Instructional Technology Specialist
Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center
Washington, D.C.

The child of deaf parents, Rosemary Stifter learned American Sign Language and English as her native languages. No preparation could have been better for her career at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center. Located on the campus of Gallaudet University, the Clerc Center includes the Kendall Demonstration Elementary School and the Model Secondary School for the Deaf. It also has a national mission to disseminate information on literacy, educate families of deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and transition students to the world of work and post-secondary study.

Stifter works with children from as young as toddlers up to eighth grade, all of whom are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Many of them also have secondary disabilities, come from homes in which English is not the primary language, and represent diverse cultures. Not surprisingly, the deafness of the students is often the characteristic that brings them together.

If technology is motivating for students with normal hearing, it is positively inciting for deaf students. "The big thing for our students is visual learning, or more specifically, video," says Stifter. "When they see themselves on video, they have a completely different understanding of communication. Many of the students are not yet fluent in American Sign Language, much less English. Video helps them improve their ASL so it can serve as a bridge to reading and writing standard English."

An example of a video-based project Stifter crafted is the Digital Video Dictionary (clerccenter.gallaudet.edu/dv). The electronic dictionary combines text, graphics, and video clips to help students understand English words, signs, finger spelling, ASL sentences, and English sentences. Stifter points out, "The Digital Video Dictionary helps validate American Sign Language, and in the process, gives students a sense of pride in their language and themselves. ... Perhaps the most surprising result is that technology has helped them improve their use of both ASL and English."

Stifter also promotes the use of blogs and wikis (wikis are Web sites that allow for group input and editing) to help students practice writing, a skill that's often a struggle for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Blogs, because they are relatively short and anonymous, are less threatening than traditional written assignments. Wikis are comparably useful, but have the added benefit of allowing students to communicate with their peers from other schools (csc.gallaudet.edu/soarhigh).

Beyond her everyday duties with teachers and students, Stifter takes the national work of the Clerc Center very seriously. She's a key contributor to TecEds, an initiative to train teachers of deaf and hard-of-hearing students across the nation to integrate technology into the instructional process. She has also helped develop Virtual Reality Education for Assisted Learning (vreal.orlando.veridian.com), a program that pioneers the use of virtual-reality technologies to teach elementary-level deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

If all that isn't enough, Stifter serves as coach of the U.S. Deaflympic swim team (mysite.verizon.net/raznken/swim), set to compete in Melbourne, Australia, this February. You can be certain that Rosemary will be on the Internet every day, sending back reports from Down Under—with video—to her students in D.C.


Canon ZR65 (www.canon.com)

Dell Inspiron 8200 (www.dell.com)

Inspiration 7.5 (www.inspiration.com)

Macromedia Studio MX (www.macromedia.com)

Microsoft Office Suite (www.office.microsoft.com)

NetOp School (www.crossteccorp.com/netopschool)

SMART Technologies SMART Boards (www.smarttech.com)

Windows Movie Maker (www.microsoft.com)


Rosemary Stifter helped develop a Web site that lets students explore the Deaf President Now movement that led to the selection of Dr. I. King Jordan as Gallaudet University's first deaf president. Few people outside the deaf community realize what this event meant to deaf people, but it has since been recognized as a significant civil rights breakthrough for deaf and hard-of-hearing people (clerccenter.gallaudet.edu/dpn).

Continue to Finalist: Kathryn Housepian > > >

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By Michael Milone


Kathryn Housepian

English Teacher
Perrysburg High School
Perrysburg, Ohio

For the people in a small town in northwest Ohio, Kathryn Housepian might seem a little "edgy." A late arrival to the teaching profession after being a stay-at-home mom, she first began experimenting with using technology in her English classroom in 1996. "About eight years ago, I discovered something remarkable: I'm not the only one who loves music and art and words," she says. "Teenagers do too. We have simply found ways to express these passions using technology."

Through the years, her students have created a staggering array of technology-based projects, including a training video for the local fire department, a public-service announcement about a school levy (it passed), a Memorial Day tribute to World War II veterans, and a substance-abuse safety film. There's also her students' online literary magazine, The Cellar (www.perrysburg.k12.oh.us/hs/litmag), which houses an array of movie reviews, local sports coverage, poetry, rants, artwork, and various other forms of student expression.

Housepian admits that "having fun while learning is a personal priority," but that doesn't mean her students aren't constantly challenged. "They're receptive of criticism from me and one another and they are just as willing to push back," she says. "None of us wants to get so comfortable that we simply coast through a day."


Kathryn Housepian's students tackled the difficult and important subject of teenage depression in "Between the Lines," a video that examines the demands placed on young people today and how these demands can contribute to depression. In addition to being aired on a local cable television station, the video production won an award at the 2004 Ohio SchoolNet State Technology Conference.


Through the years our award winners have delivered extraordinary acceptance speeches. This year we were particularly moved by finalist Kathryn Housepian, who spoke at the Ed Tech Leader of the Year awards reception in Denver this October. Following are excerpts from her speech.

I grew up in the shadow of the Great War, when the world, spent from bloodshed and chaos, sought the solace of peace and family. Before the flickering blue screens entered our lives-before programming and technology began to eat out our existence-there was a time when the mind filled in what the eye could not.

Today's kids are accustomed to passive viewing, watching without doing, learning without improving. ... That is why the role of the teacher has become even more significant. To generate the mind's ability, in my room technology has become the tool of art-writing, drawing, photography, videography, and music; because of its recent evolution, technology does not give the edge to adults. Kids, on the other hand, can quickly grasp technology as a form of expression. Because they are comfortable with technology-the new tool of art-kids can create during a time in their lives when they are bold enough to believe they can do it because they haven't yet learned they cannot. ...

My second grade teacher was Mrs. Alcott; she went to Florida for spring break and, because I had never seen the ocean, brought back for me alone a box in which was tucked a sand dollar and a shell, wrapped in tissue paper. ... Wouldn't you know? Nearly half a century later, I still have that box in my closet. Probably I will keep it until I die. For that one act, Mrs. Alcott will always live as a fragrant and shadowy occupant in a quiet corner of my heart; when I doubt my mission as a teacher, I recall that simple act of kindness and its impact on a nearsighted 7-year-old girl who was always uncomfortable in crowds. ...

Knowing someone believes in you means you can immerse yourself in the work, without self-consciousness. Knowing someone believes enables the 17-year-old suburban white boy to write and rap a song and the 18-year-old girl, known for her punk disengagement and piercings, to put her artwork, the secret passion that hangs on the wall of her bedroom, into a movie to show the world who she really is. Belief gives the high school senior with no tech experience the ability to narrate, produce, and broadcast a video supporting the school levy on community cablevision, even though this is an unpopular political stance. ...

I think what interests me the most about our work, though, is the passion kids bring to it. Love for what you are doing makes you skip lunch, or rush back early to try to claim one of the seven computers. Love for what you are doing means you spend every extra minute polishing your professional portfolio, even though if you got a job now you'd have to ride your bike to get to work.

I told you about Mrs. Alcott. Now let me tell you about the gift my ninth-grade teacher gave to me. The box she gave me contained this, written on top of my paper: "You will never be a writer." This box, too, I will keep until I die. Maybe I don't know everything about technology, but I do know this. There are two kinds of teachers; there is the teacher who opens the world for children and the teacher who closes it. In a sense, in utilizing these two elements-the force of creativity and the power of belief-we give the new tools of art and its modern expression to the child. Perhaps just as Mrs. Alcott did for me, I can put the ocean in a box and give it to my students. I humbly accept this award.


Adobe Photoshop and Premier (www.adobe.com/education)

Apple GarageBand, iMovie, and Soundtrack (www.apple.com)

Corel Painter (www.corel.com)

GeeThree Slick Transitions & Effects (www.geethree.com)

Macromedia Dreamweaver (www.macromedia.com)

Nova Development Video Explosion (www.novadevelopment.com)

Ulead COOL 3D Studio (www.ulead.com)

Wacom graphics tablet (www.wacom.com)

Continue to Finalist: Jim Hirsch > > >

< < < Return to National Winner: Rosemary Stifter

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By Michael Milone


Jim Hirsch

Associate Superintendent for Technology Services
Plano Independent School District
Plano, Texas

In 1980, Jim Hirsch came up with the novel idea to connect an Apple II computer with a large-screen monitor to give classroom presentations, and he's been on a roll ever since. Last year, his district, Plano Independent School District, was the only public school system to make the InfoWorld 100 list for the innovative use of information technology. This accolade was the direct result of a home network-access program that Hirsch set into motion.

Hirsch first proposed the idea of a private fiber network in 1998 and was responsible for the Request for Proposal process. After the network was initiated, he played a pivotal role in the creation of myPISD.net, which enables Plano's students and their families to connect to the school district's internal network and to each student's personal file directory and several global resources. Students can complete assignments online, and their parents can review classroom activities and communicate more readily with teachers and administrators.

In addition to selling myPISD.net to the district technology steering committee and board of trustees, Hirsch convinced the community of the network's benefits.

"As a member of the superintendent's cabinet, it's my role to provide information regarding bond proposals to all sorts of community and school-based groups," Hirsch says. "In this case, the presentations ranged from relatively simple overviews to in-depth technical discussions based on the audience to whom I was presenting." Thanks to the outstanding communication efforts of Hirsch and his colleagues, a $14.6 million bond was passed.

Although most of Plano's technology initiatives have been large-scale efforts, Hirsch is not averse to thinking "small". Through his urging, Plano ISD has been using handheld technology for several years in elementary, middle, and high schools. He has made a number of professional presentations about the use of handhelds in the classroom, and he was the keynote speaker at the 2004 Handheld Teaching and Learning Conference.

Recognizing that the central purpose of technology is to support teachers and students, Jim Hirsch has the people in his department periodically spend time in classrooms. "I want everyone involved with technology in the district to remember who we work for," he says. "The teachers and students are our clients, and everything we do is intended to help them do their best."


The crown jewel of the technology program at Plano ISD is the Computers@Home program (www.pisd.edu/students/computers.at.home), which provides more than 1,300 computers to families who otherwise would not have them. Now in its third year, Computers@Home serves as a national model for addressing the digital divide. "I've been able to convince people it's a perfect outlet for any donated computers that are offered by local businesses but can't be added to their school inventory," says Hirsch, who adds that the program has had "the most profound impact of any single technology initiative I've been involved with in 30 years."


Adobe Creative Suite (www.adobe.com/education)

AirProjector KJ-200 wireless presentation system (www.buyplusdirect.com)

Apple iPod, iTunes, PowerBook G4 (www.apple.com)

Gyration Ultra GT wireless mouse/keyboard (www.gyration.com)

Margi Presenter-to-Go (www.margi.com)

MediaBlender (www.tech4learning.com)

netTrekker (www.nettrekker.com)

Open Office Suite (www.openoffice.org)

PLUS V3-131 DLP projector (www.plus-america.com)

Samsung i500 phone (www.samsungusa.com)

unitedstreaming (www.unitedstreaming.com)

Continue to Finalist: Lane Mills > > >

< < < Return to Finalist: Kathryn Housepian

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By Michael Milone


Lane Mills

Assistant Superintendent for Accountability and Technology Services
Wilson County Schools
Wilson, N.C.

Trained as a school psychologist, Lane Mills is responsible for both technology and accountability in his district. "It's not as unusual a mix as it seems at first," he says. "I think the most important trend in technology is that it should be viewed as an integral part of district operations. Through our district intranet, for example, we should be able to provide teachers with the assessment information they need to develop appropriate instruction for every student."

Mills and the rest of the district's staff must be doing something right. Although more than 50 percent of the district's 12,300 students receive free or reduced lunch, nearly 95 percent of the elementary students and 70 percent of the high school students achieved proficiency on state tests. These are remarkable numbers in a district that's experiencing the same budgetary problems as untold others.

Grants are an essential funding source for Wilson County Schools, and Mills is involved in writing all of the district's technology grants. Wells Elementary School, for example, received a technology-focused IMPACT Model School Grant worth $1.35 million. Needless to say, Wells' principal, James Davis, is one of Mills' greatest fans, commenting that in the face of decreasing budgets, Mills has "found a way to continue to provide the quality of support and programming that is necessary for high student achievement."

Staff development is another important key to the district's success. Each year, the district provides more than 10,000 hours of technology-related staff development. Mills participates actively in the program and regularly conducts training for both teachers and administrators.

"If I'm going to be perceived as the champion of technology, I have to demonstrate and model it for the people who are going to use it on a daily basis," he says.

As for technology implementation, Mills employs a "test-as-you-go" approach. Any new tools are always evaluated in advance by the educators who are going to use them. Pros and cons are considered, and only after staff buy-in is the technology implemented on a pilot basis. This philosophy allows system administrators and users to gain experience and avoid costly errors.

"We can't afford to make mistakes," asserts Mills. "Teachers and students have come to depend on technology. If we are going to expect them to continue to do an outstanding job, we have to support their efforts."


One of the district programs Mills is most proud of is Technology Empowering Students and Teachers, or T.E.S.T. Participating classrooms receive a laptop, digital projector, digital camera, and scanner, along with training for designated teacher and student mentors on how to integrate the technology into the curriculum. Mills, who helped write, budget, supervise, and evaluate the program, reports it "really opened the doors for us to try more innovative programs and let everyone see professional development as something more than just training."


Cisco Systems (www.cisco.com)

eInstruction (www.einstruction.com)

HP (www.hp.com)

HyperStudio (www.hyperstudio.com)

Inspiration/Kidspiration (www.inspiration.com)

Microsoft Works (www.microsoft.com)

Novell (www.novell.com)

Orchard Software (www.orchardsoftware.com)

Riverdeep Kid Pix (www.riverdeep.net)

SchoolCenter (www.schoolcenter.com)

Trend Micro antivirus software (www.antivirus.com)

Continue to Semifinalists > > >

< < < Return to Finalist: Jim Hirsch

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By Michael Milone


Technology & Learning congratulates the following outstanding semifinalists.


Scott Beck
Health/Physical Education Instructor
York Middle School, York, Neb.

K. Ross Carroll
Language Arts/Social Studies Teacher
St. Bartholomew School, Louisville, Ky.

Karen Chatterton
Career Education Teacher
Mansfeld Middle School, Tucson, Ariz.

Sharon Hain
Computer/Technology Teacher
Red Mountain High School, Mesa, Ariz.

Mark Johnson
Language Arts Teacher
Crestwood Junior and Senior High School
Cresco, Iowa

Carol R. Levine
Computer Teacher
Palo Verde Middle School, Phoenix, Ariz.

Cheryl Lyman
Business Education Teacher
William Tennent High School
Warminster, Pa.

Edward B. Mondragon
Computer Applications Instructor
Centauri Middle School, La Jara, Colo.

Dale Pickering
Art Teacher
Mesa Public Schools, Mesa, Ariz.

Paul Walkowiak
Instructional Technology Teacher
Walnut Middle School, Grand Island, Neb.

Gary Wynn
Technology Teacher
Greenfield-Central High School
Greenfield, Ind.

Karen Vitek
Technology Integration Teacher
Nassau-Spackenkill School Poughkeepsie, N.Y.


Andrea Baker and Amy Daniels
Media Specialists
Airport High School, West Columbia, S.C.

Diane Cashion
Technology Specialist
Chicago International Charter School
Chicago, Ill.

Julie Lindsay
Educational Technology Coordinator
International School, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Miriam Martin
Technology Coordinator
South Main Street School, Pleasantville, N.J.

Matthew Ohlson
Computer Teacher
Patrick Lyndon Pilot School
West Roxbury, Mass.

Diane DeMott Painter
Technology Resource Teacher
Deer Park Elementary, Centreville, Va.

Traci Redish
Director/Instructional Technology Specialist
DOE Educational Technology Training Center Kennesaw, Ga.

Keith Shaffer
Director of Technology
Skokie School District 69, Skokie, Ill.

Jane White
Technology Applications Trainer
Indian Creek Technology Center
for Shawnee Mission School District
Shawnee Mission, Kan.


Rowland Baker
Director of Media and Technology
Santa Cruz County Office of Education
Capitola, Calif.

Brother William Clifford
Associate Superintendent for Instruction and Technology, Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Charlie Garten
Executive Director
Poway Unified School District, Poway, Calif.

Stephen W. Hefner
Richland School District Two, Columbia, S.C.

Irene Hills
Warner Elementary School, Wilmington, Del.

Virginia Jewell
Coordinator of Education Technology Clarke County School District, Athens, Ga.

Rae Niles
Curriculum and Technology Director
Sedgwick Public Schools, USD 439
Sedgwick, Kan.

James Ray
Spartanburg School District 3, Glendale, S.C.

Frank Rudnesky
Belhaven Middle School, Linwood, N.J.

Jim Wussow
Executive Director Curriculum/Instruction P
Plano Independent School District
Plano, Texas

< < < Return to Finalist: Lane Mills

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