Smart Tools: Making Technology Work

With experience in both business and the classroom, New Jersey's Mark Leung makes sure technology improves productivity at all levels of the district.

Q. Tell us a bit about your career so far.

A. I worked for five years as a management consultant for Price Waterhouse, implementing enterprise-level software at Fortune 100 companies. I decided to leave for a job that required less travel and was less stressful. I joined the staff of Lumberton Township Public Schools, teaching middle school math and computer skills, with additional responsibilities for technology professional development.

Q. When you joined Lumberton, what was the level of technology use?

A. When I came to Lumberton in 1996, the district was making a transition from stand-alone Macs to a simple network with about 150 PCs and three servers.

They needed someone on staff to maintain the network, so they offered me a position teaching a half-day and maintaining the network the other half. By the third year I transitioned to a full-time school administrator focused on technology leadership.

Q. What specific technology tools help you achieve your goals?

This past summer, we implemented the Netilla appliance, which allows our staff members to access all network applications, folders, and files from a remote location. The flexible access has increased productivity and staff morale.

We're also using thin clients and terminal services at several sites. With our tight budget, we are always looking for areas where we can save money and remain successful. Using terminal services has helped us do this by recycling old hardware, harnessing horsepower in the servers, and breathing life into the client workstations.

Q. Describe the technologies visitors might see in the typical Lumberton classroom.

A. In the third grade, for example, students are using TimeLiner to create time lines about an author they are studying. Or they might be in the lab, scanning photos of their mothers as children and then typing poems in Creative Writer for Mother's Day. In a special education teacher's room, a severely disabled student is using IntelliKeys for schoolwork. And in the middle school, the computer labs, the mobile wireless lab, and the classroom computers are in constant use, regardless of the day or time.

Q. How do you model technology use for teachers and staff?

A. We (school administration and board members) practice what we preach. School administrators use laptops and Pocket PCs to schedule meetings, document staff observations, and access e-mail. In addition, we have implemented paperless and wireless board of education meetings. All meeting agendas are created from electronic sources and converted to PDFs that are stored on the network for the board members to pull up, wirelessly, on their laptops.

Q. What is your long-term technology vision?

A. We are hoping to implement a distance learning system to enhance our professional development program. We'll eventually integrate that system into the student curriculum as well. We are also looking to adopt software that will give our parents easier access to their children's academic progress via a password-protected Web site.

Finally, we are exploring the use of an e-mail forum to help us communicate more effectively and efficiently with our parents and community members. We'd eventually like to eliminate the need for paper school bulletins, which are cumbersome, costly, and not environmentally friendly.

Michelle Thatcher is managing editor and reviews editor for Technology & Learning.

FAST FACTS

Lumberton Township Public Schools
Location: Suburban
Schools: 4
Student population: 1,800
Free and reduced lunch: 8.8%
Per-pupil instructional expenditure: $4,975

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