Special to the Star News
Educators from Elk River and Alexandria school districts were honored for their leadership in school technology initiatives at Sourcewell Technology’s annual conference recently in Minneapolis.
The 2019 Impact Education Conference brought nearly 1,500 school educators, administrators, technology coordinators, and others together Dec. 14-17 for education geared toward impacting student achievement.
On Tuesday, Dec. 17, technology specialists and leaders from the Elk River Area School District were named 2019 Technology Team of the Year.
Commitment and collaboration
Despite reduced funds and budget cuts equaling $10.2 million in 2018-19 school year, the District 728 technology team increased on-demand courses for all teachers, provided ongoing resources and training for students and families, established an extensive blended learning cohort for teachers throughout the district, and created guidelines, resources and communications for e-learning days for approximately 14,000 learners.
Elk River Area School District Superintendent Daniel Bittman nominated the team for the 2019 Team of the Year honor.
“After serving in three school districts, being assistant commissioner at the Department of Education, and serving on the AASA governing board, I have yet to find a team more committed to — and successful in — using technology to increase opportunities and access for students,” Bittman said.
Bittman also applauded the team for engaging and inviting teams from other school districts to participate in blended learning cohorts, professional development activities, and sharing of student information sessions.
“The blended learning cohorts, extensive on-demand offerings, and guidelines for students and families are examples of initiatives and work that could be replicated and motivating for others,” he noted. “Professional development is based on student, teacher and family need, and is completely fluid as technology evolves. Technology is the tool that makes personalized learning available, innovative, and empowering to all, not some.”
Leadership beyond the classroom
Alexandria Public Schools Technology Integrationist Lukas Gotto was named 2019 Technology Leader of the Year.
“Lukas has been an influential leader in enhancing learning opportunities with technology for students both directly and indirectly in our schools and community,” Gotto’s nomination letter read. “His passion, advocacy, creativity, and dedication has resulted in growing students’ curiosity and desire to engage in learning through the use of instructional technology and innovative teaching practices.”
Gotto implemented the Alexandria Technology Champions, a cross-section of Alexandria schools’ K-12 educators trained with innovative tech tools and responsible for training others. He also secured grant dollars to purchase classroom technology tools and kits that expand into math and science to help teach complex concepts including motion, distance, and velocity.
Further connecting community to education, Gotto created Makercamp, a combination of human-centered design, service-learning, and community connections where students use their hands and minds to improve their community. Through this work, Gotto coordinated community resources that allowed students to build a 30-foot steel bridge and 55-foot boardwalk for outdoor learning spaces at Discovery Middle School and walking trails accessible to the community.