CTO Clinic Welcome Address

by Jean Tower

On May 5th we (METAA and CoSN) held our second annual Massachusetts CTO Clinic. It is a professional development day designed for school technology leaders. It was a very successful conference and I heard lots of positive comments about the sessions, the keynote speaker, and even the location. I am sharing my welcome remarks here in my blog because they represent so clearly what I think about the job of the school technology leader. We all manage many systems, data, contracts, relationships, and people. But, more importantly, we lead innovation. These remarks reflect that perspective.

Welcome to our School Technology Leadership – CTO Clinic. My name is Jean Tower and I am the president of METAA, the Massachusetts Educational Technology Administrators Association.

Today’s event is hosted jointly by METAA, and CoSN, the Consortium for School Networking. Our theme is cloud computing –

Does Every Cloud have a Silver Lining? An Investigation of Cloud Computing.

A definition of cloud computing always includes storage and virtualization of applications, but for schools, it includes so much more – we also think about web 2.0 tools that live in the cloud and related issues like bandwidth, network infrastructure, wireless, security, and even community support. And since our “bottom line” is always teaching and learning, we focus on cloud computing as it impacts student learning.

Today, we will be inspired and motivated by our keynote speaker; innovative practitioners will share their wisdom and expertise; sponsors and partners will keep us up-to-date about the latest products and services. You will get the most out of the event, if you make sure to take time to network and chat with your colleagues. Sometimes, we remember for years something that a keynote speaker said – but it is often that snippet of conversation in the hall, or the connection you make at lunch, that is the serendipitous take-away that you will help you tomorrow, back at your office.

Now, I would like to recognize the many people who helped to make this event possible.
Please stand as I mention your name and please hold your applause until the end.
Irene Spero, the Chief Operating Officer of CoSN, who flew in from DC to be here for this event.
Theresa Jay and Michael Minihane, co-chairs of the conference committee and of our professional development committee.
Mike is also the board secretary.
Gail Callahan, vice-president
Ted Dubsky, Treasurer
And, fellow board members, all of whom contribute to the organization in many ways, and who all helped to make today possible:
Tom Barnes
Eric Bouvier
Ellen Driscoll
Wendy Haskell
Kathy Martin
Bill Milot
James Panopoulos
Michael Purdy
Annamaria Schrimpf
Kevin Warenda
Thank you to all of these dedicated colleagues.

Technology leaders in schools are known by many titles – Technology Coordinator, Technology Director, CIO, and CTO to name a few. Regardless of your official title, you all do an amazingly important job in your schools and districts. You manage networks and systems; you apply technology to solve operational and educational issues; you report your data to the state and help your staff understand what quality data looks like. You manage the day-to-day crises. You help the first grader who can’t print his butterfly poem and the superintendent whose computer just crashed in the middle of a long evaluation. You lead the way for technology to transform teaching and learning. And more than most school administrators, you nurture innovation and you are agents of change. I am proud to call you colleagues.

In our roles, to simply stay current we have to be constantly learning and growing. If our skills and knowledge stay static, then we fall behind. What I see in the members of METAA, though, is just the opposite. We work to become continuously better in our professions. Working alone, we can each advance our knowledge and skills, but working together, we can do this faster – we get better faster, together, as a community of like-minded professionals, taking from and contributing to the group.

Together, we expand the relevancy and the recognized expertise of technology leaders in education. Today’s event, and others like it that we host throughout the year, are sources of opportunity to connect with others, to learn, to grow, and to contribute to the statewide and nationwide dialog. As individuals, we may be heard by a few. As a group, we magnify the success of others, we increase our potential, and we amplify our voices. As a group, we are heard by many more.

And with that megaphone, what will we say?
We will tell our state and national leaders how important funding for technology is; we will professionalize our roles by insisting on state licensure for technology directors; in times of tight budgets, we will advise our school leaders that the role of the technology director is a critical one and that schools who expect to be viable institutions in the 21st century would be wise to protect this position from cuts. We will educate others that technology is the new utility – when people flip the light switch, they don’t wonder if the lights will work today – they depend on them to work.
Our schools now depend on technology and the networks we maintain, to teach and communicate, to schedule our schools, to run the heat and cooling systems, to create our bus routes, to take attendance, and so much more – all systems converge in technology. We keep the trains running, metaphorically speaking.

But in addition to “managing” – we lead. We lead the way toward change and innovation. As change agents in our schools, one of the things we all do is we narrate a story of change – we describe what is possible. Our association with each other helps us to imagine those possibilities – we use the expertise, wisdom, and experiences of our peers, to increase our speed of growth and expand our vision. Growth and improvement are not optional –nearly 1 million Massachusetts school students are depending on us.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: