Garnet Valley School District
Name: Paul Sanfrancesco
Title: Director of Technology
District: Garnet Valley School District, PA
What are your big-picture tech goals for your district?
We put two iPad carts in each of our three elementary schools, one iPad cart in the middle school, and one in the high school. One teacher gets the cart for the entire year, and with that comes a lot of training. All of the iPad teachers meet every in-service day for professional development. The middle and high school iPad teachers are science teachers, and it’s been great for them to discuss curriculum around this common tool. They are sharing resources and discussing how they use Google Docs and other tools. The teachers will help us in our summer tech academy to deliver iPad instruction to other teachers who are requesting iPads.
Our high school has a hybrid BYOD effort in place. If a teacher wants to use a device, he or she makes that call. The students respect the technology and the teacher’s methods, and it’s working well for us. This year we have a lot of teacher- and parent-focus groups on expanding that BYOD program. We are upgrading our network again to handle it, since more teachers are using BYOD and we have more iPads. We already have wireless campuses all over and can add access points where needed.
What changes are you taking to achieve them?
We do a lot of peer sharing during the year and, of course, there’s our summer tech academy. We’re a big data-driven district and show the data to everyone in the district to get the support and make sure everyone understands where we’re going. We use Speak Up data. It’s been key for us for when we make tech decisions.
What are the biggest challenges in your day-to - day life and how do you manage them?
There’s not enough time to do enough staff development. It’s a huge and ongoing concern. Also, being fiscally responsible and tying everything to student learning. We make sure we spend the money in a very conscientious way.
How do you get buy-in on ed tech from the school community?
We educate as much as we can by partnering with the Board and the Home and School Associations (i.e., PTAs). We go to them with every tech initiative and explain how it ties into curriculum, how it’s going to work, etc. Every time we do anything we meet with them and they provide matching funds. They got us to where we are. On the flip side, I give talks on anti-bullying, technology, or whatever they need.
What currently has you really excited?
Staff development and going to conferences excites me. Too many times we stay in the bubble of our districts. If you don’t get out to listen, collaborate, and appreciate—even if you don’t agree—you’ll miss out. Getting into a national setting and listening to the different initiatives going on helps you fix or reinforce your own vision.
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