Last week Havre Public Schools welcomed a team of employees from various technological organizations after the district was selected to receive a no-cost technology training and upgrading through a leadership development program.
Team4Tech Program Director Dawn Kwan said this program is a collaboration between two leading nonprofits in education technology Consortium for School Networking, or CoSN, and Team4Tech, along with a team of employees from VMware, an international computer software company. The group will be assisting the district with their technological needs.
“(We) will work with Havre school district to assist in upgrading their IT infrastructure and collaborate with their teachers to get them excited to integrate technology into their classrooms to promote learning in creativity, collaboration, communications, and critical thinking skills,” Kwan added.
A similar project took place in a rural school district in Utah last year, she said. The VMware Foundation decided to invest in a project this year because of last year’s experience and results for the teachers and VMware employees, making it an authentic two-way service learning experience.
To find a school district that is a good fit for the project, CoSN reached out to their Certified Education Technology Leaders to get recommendations on school districts in the United States that were “on the cusp of technology,” Kwan said, meaning they have access to technological resources and were looking for professional development on the IT infrastructure and teacher training.
“One of the key success components is getting leadership support,” Kwan said, adding Superintendent Andy Carlson and Assistant Superintendent Craig Mueller have been very supportive of the project.
Last week’s stop — the first visit by the groups — was primarily used for data-gathering and research on the district technology systems.
“We are reviewing the infrastructure … figuring out how the school district needs to be,” VMware Technical Account Manager Bill Hill said.
He added that he will then be able to prime and prep the team which will come down to help the district in August; they are laying out the foundation for the IT systems.
Marisa Glassman, senior global giving manager for VMware, said the faculty and staff in the district shouldn’t be able to notice the changes — just use them.
“If done right, teachers won’t see,” she said.
Members from Consortium for School Networking and Team4Tech were also present for the data-gathering trip, meeting with two representatives from each school in the district.
The organization members used this time for professional development with the participating members from the schools which included teachers and other staff members, President of Agentic Learning Marie Bjerede said.
“We want to help them understand how to reach their goals and encourage students,” she added.
The school district is “pretty solid in tech,” Bjerede said, but it is not just the technology they want to help the teachers with, they would like to help change the way they teach the technology.
“We were fortunate to be selected,” Carlson said. “The group of folks who will be coming are amazing.”
Kwan said the tech group will come to Havre for the main teacher training program Aug. 8-17, with a Technology Fun Day for students and parents Aug. 11.
Technology Fun Day will have activities like learning to create Lego robots, electric circuits and straw robots and working with microprocessors. It will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and lunch will be provided. The event poster says a location will be decided at a later date.