In this National Gathering segment, we hear from two of our newest EduJedi Knights, Katie Micallef from Pinellas County Schools and Connie Kolosey from Volusia County Public Schools.
When asked about her journey to become an EduJedi Knight, Connie Kolosey said, “I've been in this role, this is my sixth school year. Early on we really realized that we needed to pull together and get organized as a district; we started with just the idea of a single sign on first of all, you know, it's all. And then deciding which applications that we want to use and have access to. And of course, that's just been a continuous and mushrooming situation. But then, we had a lot of structures in place prior to March, 2020 that really set us up, but we'd worked on our personal life learning pathway, which is a place where students can log on and see their current data and then also have accesses to individualized lessons. And that came out of our work with the Gates Foundation and personalized learning. And that was the takeaway for our district with that. Then, 2020 happened and we were not even thinking of going to a one to one device situation prior to that. And so that created an interesting bump. And at that point we adopted an LMS and dove in and we've really come to a place now where all of that really fast learning is setting us up for exciting things going forward.”
When describing her own district’s journey, Katie Micallef said, “We definitely have made some massive strides and I've been a member of the information technology services division for about six or seven years now. And over the course of that time, I think I've been fortunate to see us grow through a multitude of different lenses, meaning that my first responsibility was a personalized learning leader and much of these initiatives were birthed out of the digital classroom plan. As a personalized learning leader, we were tech coaches essentially, and we had zones and we were able to really go out and help and support our teachers in the blended technology and integration modes.
“We were also able to really help our district as well. And that transition, we talk a lot about the digital transition, right? And there's a cultural transition. And so, a lot of the role that the PLLs played was that exactly. And so that was the inception around 2015, 2016. Around that time we also adopted Canvas as our LMS. We also had ClassLink as our SSO and we also offer clever. We are one of ClassLink's largest Southeast school districts with the amount of rostered programs we offer. We really pride ourself on that, in creating that standardization. When 2020 hit, it kind of threw us for a loop. It was kind of ironic to see that we were fully prepared in the terms of the instructional materials in a digital sense. But it was the hardware. So we scrambled, we made it work and then we were on a three year plan to be a 1:1 school district. So, from there we really just accelerated that three-year plan and we became a 1:1 school district in the matter of a couple of months. Through that, we made our K through two, all iPads, one to one, we made our grades three through five laptops in carts, and then we made our grades six through 12, 1:1 that they can take home. But really looking forward to creating some standardization and support to make this 1:1 program the best it can be.”
You’ll want to tune in and hear the challenges both award-winning districts have had, and the absolutely brilliant ways both districts have harnessed technology to create a superior learning environment for their staffs and students. Both Kolosey and Micallef freely share their methods, and there is a lot you can take home to your own school or district. And next year, who knows? There may be an award in your future.