SETDA Recognizes Tech Leaders for Education

SETDA, a membership association of U.S. state and territorial educational technology leaders, honored three individuals for their contributions to the use and support of technology in K-12 education.

  • Sydnee Dickson was named the 2021 recipient of the SETDA State Policy Maker of the Year Award;

  • Julia Legg was named the 2021 recipient of the SETDA State Leader of the Year Award; and

  • Senator Gary Peters (MI), was named the 2021 recipient of the SETDA Federal Policy Maker of the Year Award.

The honors were given during the organization's latest annual leadership summit, which was held virtually.

Dickson has served as the Utah State Superintendent of Public Instruction since June 2016. She has nearly 10 years of experience working in the office of the Utah State Board of Education (USBE).

"Dr. Sydnee Dickson is truly an exemplary leader of technology in education and exemplifies the best of how to effectively lead change," said colleagues in the nomination. "She continues to lead, guide and share her vision of the positive impact technology can have to improve teaching and learning. She is the ultimate advocate for the equity of access to home technology connections including digital tools and resources."

"Dr. Dickson provides an exemplary model of effective state leadership, turning vision into action by surrounding herself with dedicated and experienced staff to support Utah schools in both rural and urban districts across the state," said Julia Fallon, SETDA's executive director. "Her leadership to quickly meet the needs of the K-12 school system related to technology resources to provide blended and digital learning became even more important in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has made a long-term difference for students in Utah and serves as a model for schools around the nation."

Legg currently serves as the state E-rate coordinator in the Office of Data Analysis & Research at the West Virginia Department of Education. In her 16 years with WVDE, she has provided professional development as a technology integration specialist coordinator and served in other roles, including supporting school library media specialists across the state. In her current role, she supports broadband initiatives as a member of the state Broadband Enhancement Council Education Committee, administers the statewide strategic technology planning initiative, manages state master contracts for school networking and internet access, and provides technical support to school districts, along with providing assistance with application filing to her districts for E-rate and the Emergency Connectivity Fund.

"Julia works tirelessly to advocate for students and does everything in her power to make sure they have the best technological experience to enhance learning. She takes on this goal both in her state but also at the national level, participating in multiple national associations," stated the nomination for Legg, which came from Mindy Fiscus, digital access coordinator for the Learning Technology Center of Illinois. "Her actions bring millions of dollars into the state of West Virginia with her continuous support through webinars, email and phone calls. She also prepares consortium applications for the state for both categories of E-Rate and the Emergency Connectivity Fund. Without her efforts, many students across West Virginia would have been without access to learning, especially in this new post-pandemic environment."

Senator Peters has represented Michigan in the Senate since 2015. He serves as chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee and as a member of the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee. Peters introduced and recently secured passage of the K-12 Cybersecurity Act of 2021 (S.1917), which was signed by President Biden in October 2021. The new law directs the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to examine the risks and challenges that schools face in securing their networks. The legislation also charges CISA with creating cybersecurity recommendations and other voluntary resources for schools to use when implementing their cybersecurity solutions. Peters is also a cosponsor of legislation to restore federal Net Neutrality requirements, and he strongly supported creation of the Emergency Connectivity Fund.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.