Laura Joan “Jo” Welter

Laura Joan “Jo” Welter

Assistant Superintendent, Hampton Township School District, Allison Park, PA

Laura Joan “Jo” Welter has overseen the technology department for the seven years she’s been at Hampton Township School District, and—thanks to a lot of hardworking people—has helped this high-performing district make technology a priority.

First, there’s the professional development partnership with Duquesne University, in which education students attaining their IT certification work one on one with Hampton Township teachers to help them integrate technology. So far, they have helped teachers set up and use electronic responders, created videos for parents to see what their children do in school, brainstormed how to incorporate Wikispaces and Google Apps into lessons, and developed tutorials for Book Creator, Prezi, and iMovie. “Upon return from summer, teachers immediately begin to ask when the interns will be available,” says Welter. “This PD experience has proven to be more effective than any other workshops or experiences we’ve provided.”

As chairperson of a technology council that includes teachers, administrators, parents, students, and board members, Welter evaluates technology PD, reviews and discusses the technology budget, brainstorms next steps for tech integration, and discusses policy and procedures. She believes that the council’s most significant impact is garnering PD feedback from teachers. She says, “There is no end to the learning and growth for teachers when it comes to technology and using it effectively. I rely on this committee to provide me with the necessary feedback for this task. Committee members often bring issues and concerns from the larger professional staff to this group.”

One of the things Welter is most proud of are the four bi-annual technology expositions that let the community see how the district uses technology in its schools. More than 800 guests attended the last expo (T4), which had more than 60 exhibits presented by teachers and students. Welter shares, “The majority of the exhibits were interactive, as students encouraged parents and community members to engage and experience technology firsthand.”

This past year, the school board voted to raise taxes in order to give the district an additional $100,000 toward technology. The money went toward 70 MacBook Pros for the high school teachers, and now all teachers have laptops. The district also has carts of Macbooks, Windows laptops, iPads, and Chromebooks. “The mixed-cart approach provides best-of-breed access to varied applications and services,” says Welter. “We believe that exposing students to unique forms of technology—including different platforms—will prepare them for any type of work or school environment.”

Most recently, Welter and her technology director received a $75,000 grant to create a Collaborative Learning Center at the local high school. Building on the high school’s global videoconferencing capability, BYOD program, and Google Apps for Education programs, the center will provide opportunities for local, national, and global collaboration. High school teachers, district-level committees, and the community will be able to use the space. Welter says, “As a high-performing school district, our goal is to continuously improve the opportunities for our students.”

What She Uses

• ActivExpression and ActivInspire handhelds
• Blackboard Connect
• Chromebooks
• CMU Alice
• Dell Latitude laptops
• Discovery Learning
• Edmentum and Study Island
• Follett Destiny
• Glogster EDU
• Google Apps for Education
• HMH ThinkCentral
• iPads and iPods
• LEGO NXT Robotics
• Macbooks
• Makerbot 3D printers
• Naviance Succeed
• PASCO Scientific for Physics
• Polycom HDX videoconferencing
• Promethean ActivBoards
• Safari Montage
• Scantron Pinnacle Gradebook
• SchoolDude
• SMARTboards and Responders
• TurningPoint
• Xirrus WiFi