Professional Development

These honorees are delivering effective faculty PD that mirrors and in some cases, takes place alongside the experiences their students are having with educational technology. From training school district personnel as technology coaches to encouraging teachers to take greater control of their PD and how they incorporate education technology in their classrooms, these schools are adapting to changing expectations and enabling faculty and students to thrive in an ever more connected world.

Valley Stream Union Free School District 13, Valley Stream, New York

After a yearlong pilot program, Valley Stream Union Free School District 13 purchased Chromebooks as part of a 1-to-1 initiative for students in grades 3 through 6. A local BOCES provided some Model Schools training, which was primarily focused on network management. At the same time, district leaders overhauled PD to improve instruction and better utilize resources such as personnel and the expanding number of devices.

Pickerington Local School District, Pickerington, Ohio

Pickerington Local School District leaders believed they had a solid technology plan in place and resources to boot, but couldn’t get a 1-to-1 device program off the ground without first addressing pedagogy.

Numerous reports within the district indicated that schools weren’t using technology at full capacity. This suggested a need to show teachers how to use new tools and leverage strategies to make technology a positive addition to the classroom, says Brian Seymour, director of instructional technology.

Lake Elsinore USD, Lake Elsinore, California

"We consistently tell our students that every day counts, but our former professional development program regularly took our professionals out of the classroom for professional development,” says Ryan Mulvanny, director of instructional technology at California’s Lake Elsinore USD.

Two additional factors—a substitute teacher shortage and a lack of PD offerings—motivated Lake Elsinore USD to launch a microcredentials program that provides high-quality PD for teachers who might not be inclined to attend all-day or after-school sessions.

Council Rock School District, Newtown, Pennsylvania

The development of new edtech PD in Pennsylvania’s Council Rock School District began when a group of teachers collaborated to identify learning targets. To achieve their goals—and keep instruction aligned with the Council Rock Educational Technology Standards—the teachers convinced district leaders to add a pair of elementary school technology integration specialists. 

“The specific goal of the program is to promote the use of technology in the classroom across all curricular subjects,” say the specialists, Hannah Pressman and Danielle Udis.

Cumberland Regional School District, Bridgeton, New Jersey

Challenge: The greatest failure rate in high school occurs in ninth grade, and students who fail ninth grade are 50 percent less likely to graduate. At-risk students need to strengthen academic and social-emotional skills to successfully navigate the transition to high school.  

Hamburg Central School District, Hamburg, New York

Challenge: An estimated 1 in 5 youth suffer from a mental health disorder, with half of all chronic mental illness beginning by age 14. Untreated mental health problems can lead to poor school performance, strained family relationships, trouble with the law, substance abuse and other risk behaviors.  

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Charlotte, North Carolina

In a 1-to-1 device district with nearly 20,000 English language learners, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools educators were eager to design lessons that would foster academic conversations and build language skills for those students. District leaders also saw technology as a solution that could provide students with opportunities beyond class time to practice language skills and to participate in collaborative projects.

Bellefonte Area Middle School, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania

Bellefonte Area School District wanted students and teachers to have their own Chromebooks and to know how to use Google programs. So the Pennsylvania district gradually introduced staff and students to apps in G Suite for Education during the 2016-17 school year. Meanwhile staff members participated in small-group training opportunities each time they received a new program. 

Next, the district gradually distributed Chromebooks to its 2,700 students and 450 staff members. Each deployment required the IT department to make Wi-Fi upgrades. 

Red Lion Area Junior High School, Red Lion, Pennsylvania

In 2014, teachers at Red Lion Area Junior High School were concerned when the district announced its plan to implement a 1-to-1 initiative. Many educators were concerned about using Chromebooks, so the Pennsylvania district introduced a program where teachers could constructively critique one another’s performance. 

Liberty Union-Thurston Local Schools, Baltimore, Ohio

Educators at Liberty Union-Thurston Local Schools in Ohio wanted to learn how to use new technology, but were struggling to find the right opportunity. 

After reaching out to other local school leaders, Superintendent Todd Osborn launched Fairfield County PD Day, which provided time to investigate new instructional tools and

“Our goal was to develop a systemic process to define the basic technology skills each teacher should possess,” says Osborn.