Home' THE Journal : August 2012 Contents FEATURE | 2012 Sylvia Charp Award
One of the most crucial components of the process was
the drive to gain the support of and buy-in from school-level
administrators, teachers, parents, and community members.
To help get teachers on board and prepare them for the transi-
tion, the district implemented a comprehensive professional
development effort consisting of summer institutes and special
training days throughout the year. Sessions focused on technol-
ogy and pedagogy training, including the effective integration
of technology and customizing teaching and student learning.
To date, approximately 90 percent of MGSD teachers par-
ticipate in these ongoing training sessions, differentiated by
content, grade, and teacher response levels, says Smith.
“Staff development was a big piece to make sure our teach-
ers were ready to make it happen, again focusing on academic
achievement, looking at data, and using it like we never have
before,” says Smith. “One of the biggest growing (pains was)
change, especially for our teachers. Let’s face it, teachers are
traditional in how we teach. So turning their world upside
down was a big deal.”
To help with parental buy-in when the initiative was intro-
duced, more than 800 of them attended a symposium to help
them understand how to help their children use the technology
wisely and effectively—an essential component in preventing
laptop loss or damage. The district still holds technology nights
throughout the year to assist families new to the program.
DESPITE THE STORM:
A Charp Honorable Mention for Joplin
AN EF-5 TORNADO (the strongest category recognized by the National Weather Service) would be enough to
throw most communities into chaos. That certainly was the case when one of the most severe tornadoes in Ameri-
can history hit Joplin, MO, May 22, 2011. Hit equally hard was the Joplin School District, which serves the south-
western Missouri community.
But was the tornado—which completely destroyed the district’s only high school, a middle school, two elementary
schools, and a technology center—enough to delay the implementation of a long-planned 1-to-1 computing program
at the high school the following fall?
No way. Administrators at many districts might have focused on simply getting things somewhere close to back to nor-
mal by the time school started three months later, but Joplin used the tragedy as an opportunity to propel itself into the
21st century. It is because of the determination and ingenuity the Joplin School District displayed that T.H.E. Journal and
the International Society for Technology in Education awarded a Sylvia Charp Award Honorable Mention to the district.
Comprising 18 schools serving 7,400 students, the district’s first order of business was to contend with the damage
left in the storm’s wake. Coming, as the tornado did, close to the end of the school year, the Joplin district faced a
daunting list of challenges before classes were scheduled to resume in the fall. Along with finding space to accom-
modate 3,500 students whose classrooms had been destroyed, the IT staff needed to get its data center up and run-
ning and rebuild its network infrastructure.
“My team and I were standing in a basement full of water, hard hats on, ceiling tiles falling everywhere, but slowly
but surely we got our payroll running,” remembers Traci House, district director of technology. “That was my first
epiphany, when I knew Joplin Schools would survive this.”
Known as a tech-savvy district throughout the state anyway, Joplin wasn’t content to return to the technology status
quo. So, along with working to get its schools up and ready and scrambling for available temporary space all over town
for thousands of displaced students, district officials decided to go ahead with the 1-to-1 rollout it had already planned.
Luckily, the district had been planning a tech transformation for some time anyway. There had been visioning meet-
ings, planning sessions, and visits to other districts that already had 1-to-1 programs.
Joplin administrators were confident they were prepared to make the swift and critical decisions needed to go
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