Hi, I’m Jerri Kemble, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Programs and Technology at Lawrence Public Schools USD 497 (KS). A couple weeks ago, I attended the first-ever National ConnectED Superintendents Summit hosted by President Barack Obama at the White House. I was honored when the U.S. Department of Education selected me as one of 100 top school leaders from across America to participate and be recognized for leadership in helping transition our school districts to digital learning. The summit provided opportunities for school leaders to share valuable insights with each other and with U.S. Dept of Education Secretary Duncan.
In his White House address to superintendents, President Obama asked the district leaders to sign the “Future Ready District Pledge” in support of his effort to connect 99% of the nation’s students to high speed internet in the next four years. The President announced that the Department of Education is rolling out new guidelines for schools to improve their technological infrastructures. They will also support schools by creating tool kits to assist in building digital learning plans. In his remarks, the President said that, “In a country where we expect Wi-Fi with our coffee, the least we can do is expect that our schools are properly wired.” The President went on to say, “We need teachers who know how to make learning come alive, with personalized instruction and project-based learning. And, we’ve got to do more to make sure our teachers are supported and receive professional training and best practices that will encourage the best and brightest to continue to be in the field.”
The superintendents not only visited the White House, but met with Senior Advisors to President Obama to discuss the need for American schools to transition to a future ready learning environment.
There was a sense of urgency in the air. The White House made it clear that the superintendents in attendance were being called to action. Now is the time for district leaders to model the 21st century skills we are asking our students to develop. We must step up, lead a culture of collaboration, and find creative solutions to the issues that face our districts. We are the ones that must ensure that our districts are providing learning experiences that are excellent, engaging and equitable.
The White House summit will be followed by a series of 12-15 regional summits that will focus on the digital progress both made and possible by local school districts.
As I ponder this incredible experience, my thoughts go to the vendors that we work with. Closing the achievement and opportunity gaps is an extraordinary task. Many of our vendors, such as Schoolwires, have listened to the needs of our teachers, students, and families and created tools that allow our teachers to use an array of digital tools with ease. We appreciate the responsiveness of Schoolwires and how it allows our students and teachers to engage in learning and communication anytime and anywhere, thus meeting the needs of a Future Ready environment. School districts depend on business partners to create customizable tools that assist our teachers in developing the Future Ready education that President Obama referred to. We are appreciative of the work that goes into making our websites not only look engaging, but are easy to use; therefore, helping our teachers work smarter not harder.
We transitioned to Schoolwires this fall and it was a very smooth transition. Teachers remark that the website platform is intuitive and does not require a lot of time or training for them to create attractive, informative teacher Web pages. I noticed that Schoolwires developed the Future Ready Schools website for the President. Thank you for your commitment to a well-designed and easy to use communication and engagement tool. We are excited to be a part of the Schoolwires family.