There is always more to do…

With the new year approaching it is as good a time as any to reflect on various accomplishments over the past 12 months or so and to forge a new path moving forward. Every student, teacher, staff member, and administrator use the winter break to reenergize and refocus their goals for the remainder of the school year but it’s also a good time to celebrate successes.

A lot has been accomplished at Garnet Valley [in all areas] in a relatively short period of time. A year ago, Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent of Schools for the Garnet Valley School District, signed the Future Ready District Pledge demonstrating his commitment to work collaboratively with key district stakeholders to set a vision for teaching and learning in this digital age, to empower educators through personalized professional development, and to mentor other district leaders in their own transition in becoming Future Ready educators.

The Future Ready District Pledge set in motion a framework for achieving those goals. Our Strategic Technology Planning Committee was formed representing all stakeholders in the District and included District and building administrators, School Board Members, classroom teachers and support staff, as well as parents and students. All grade levels, content areas, and levels of technology experiences were represented.

Other committees and subcommittees (e-Safety, Technology Scope & Sequence, STEAM, High School 1:1/Blended Learning, OER) would be formed as a result of the work being done by this District Committee.

The committee’s stated goals were:

  • To develop a multi-year technology plan
  • Assess our infrastructure needs
  • Choose the right hardware & software for students to use in the classroom
  • Choose how to pilot new hardware, software, LMS, etc…
  • Ensure that technology works to support curriculum and instruction
  • Create a collaborative, ongoing professional development plan for all staff
  • Communicate with all stakeholders throughout the entire process
  • Balance cost-effective and cost-saving strategies with best educational practices

The committee used The National Educational Technology Plan’s “five essentials” as a framework to develop a plan to move the Garnet Valley School District forward and for it to continue to be a model for other districts.

The National Educational Technology Plan (NETP) presented a model of learning powered by technology, with goals and recommendations in five essential areas: learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure, and productivity.

With this framework in place, the Garnet Valley Strategic Technology Planning Committee worked to create a budget-friendly, sustainable, student-centered plan to lead the District into the future. The main areas of focus for our committee were:

  • 100% access to mobile device for all faculty
  • 100% access to mobile device for all students
  • Choosing one productivity tool for the district that would meet our future needs
  • Differentiated professional development for all faculty and staff
  • Begin to explore virtual and blended learning
  • Begin to redesign learning spaces to foster collaboration and encourage creativity and innovation
  • Upgrade entire district infrastructure and prepare for future needs
  • Choose one Learning Management System to streamline student work and parent  communication

There were hurdles and missteps along the way but great strides have been made as well. How did we accomplish so much, so quickly?

  • We visited and learned from other districts & universities. Being late to the game allowed us to learn from other’s mistakes
  • We used the US Dept. of Ed. National Education Technology Plan (NETP) as our framework to build our Strategic Technology Plan
  • We aligned our work to ISTE & PA Core Standards
  • We included all stakeholders in the process
  • We formed sub-committees along the way to help in the process
  • We had productive conflict along the way
  • We provided opportunities for critical feedback by meeting with every department and/or grade level.

Amazing work by a lot of great people, but there is always more to do…