LOY Profile Series

from Technology & Learning

A Kentucky teacher who gets creative to fund her tech budget.

Leader: Vickie Maggard Elswick
Teacher, Boyd County Middle
School, Ashland, KY

School Snapshot: Serving 725 students, Boyd County Middle School is one of seven schools in the 3,400-student Boyd County Public School District. Fifty percent of the school's students are eligible for free and/or reduced lunch. Honored as a 2007-08 "School to Watch" by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform.

Vickie Maggard Elswick's first teaching job was showing students how to use a manual typewriter. Thirty-one years later the tools have changed—and so has she. "That's probably why I'm still teaching," says Elswick, a computer instructor at Boyd County Middle School (BCMS) in Ashland, Kentucky. "I have been forced to periodically relearn my craft and that has made all the difference."

Situated near the banks of the Ohio River in the northeast part of the state, BCMS has an array of equipment—student workstations in every classroom, two 31-station computer labs, one 15-station lab in the media center, and five mobile computer carts—but a surprisingly spare technology budget. Other than district and state funds used to purchase computers and a $ 150- per-year stipend for supplies, there are no funds for technology.

So Elswick gets creative. She pursued federal vocational funds, which allowed the school to purchase software such as Inspiration and HyperStudio as well as digital cameras, scanners, printers, and a robot. An essay she wrote won first place in Samsung's Hope for Education contest; the $20,000 prize was used to buy flat-screen televisions for the school's seven teaching teams. "Every new piece of technology that's placed in my school has meant that my students have a new opportunity to learn, to achieve, and to communicate their competencies at a higher, more sophisticated level," says Elswick, who in addition to teaching a full load of classes maintains the school's Web site.

Recently, Elswick wrote and won a $1,000 Target grant that funded a field trip to a local art museum as part of an 8th grade interdisciplinary project.

Elswick has also filled a void in the area of professional development. What began as ad hoc tech training for colleagues has evolved into a combination of monthly workshops, self-instructional modules, and e-mail newsletters she offers to anyone in the district wanting to sharpen his or her technology skills. Cost to the district: $0.

Elswick says her impact is best reflected in her students, from her middle school charges—including those with special needs—who take top prizes at regional competitions to the "multiplier effect in every teacher I train who can then use technology appropriately." Her reach extends beyond the district as well. In her course for pre-service teachers at a local university, she gets students producing Web pages, designing technology-enriched lesson plans, and engineering WebQuests. She says she's proud that her pre-service students "will enter their classroom as first-rate technology integrators."

Learn More: www.boyd.k12.ky.us/bcms/index.htm

Last Byte: "My impact and my greatest pride are my students and what they can and will do with the technology skills I've helped them develop."

We'd like to thank Atomic Learning and netTrekker, sponsors of T&L's 2007 Leader of the Year program.