A Winning Vision
##AUTHORSPLIT##<--->This year's Sylvia Charp Award recipient brings a clear anddetermined purpose to its technology innovations.
"ALTHOUGH SMALLER THAN MANYschool systems in size, Tennessee'sGreeneville City school district playslarge in the business of educating studentswith technology. Our ultimate goalis to equip our students with the requisiteskills to enable them to operateeffectively and with confidence in atechnology-savvy world."
As the words on its application for the 2008 Sylvia Charp Award declare, Greeneville City Schools takes seriously the job of teaching students to understand and use technology. This districtwide commitment has resulted in GCS being named this year's winner of the Charp award, presented annually by T.H.E. Journal and the International Society for Technology in Education to a school district for its innovative approach to integrating technology into teaching and learning.
Virtually all of the applicants for the Charp award, named for T.H.E. Journal's founding editor, demonstrated innovative approaches to technology integration. What made GCS stand out was its vision. Its innovations were not a series of "let's try this" pilot projects. Instead, they all targeted a common mission. That focus points up one of the things I've seen in five years of judging the Charp award: The education technology field is maturing. District technology efforts are now more thought out and deliberate, and have a clearer purpose behind them and goal in front of them.
Greeneville wants to equip its students for today's world, but the district also wants to be a leader, and these two ambitions have come together to bear great benefits for students. For example, the district was instrumental in cementing a new state contract for districtwide internet access when the old deal was about to expire. The more the district is looked upon as a leader, the more it is sought after for partnerships. GCS regularly collaborates with consortiums and other districts across the country, and works with local universities.
GCS has a better than 2-to-1 student-to-computer ratio, all of its staff have tablet computers, and its IT people not only provide just-in-time professional development to educators, but also make the effort to model best instructional practices as they serve the faculty. Like many districts, GCS has semiannual technology conference days. Unlike many districts, it has all personnel-- from bus drivers to assistants to administrators to teachers-- learning side by side.
Most impressive is GCS' Homelink program, which, supplemented by grants, places computers with free internet access in the homes of disadvantaged students. Greeneville City Schools is our fifth Charp award recipient, joining previous winners Irving Independent School District (TX), Kiel Area School District (WI), Niles Township High School District 219 (IL), and Calcasieu Parish Public Schools (LA). Congratulations to all in the district who participate in GCS' innovative work as a technology leader. You may just turn out to be an inspiration to next year's applicants.
-Geoffrey H. Fletcher, Editorial director
This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2008 issue of THE Journal.