New York City - Microsoft
What an experience - New York City. I got to hang with some amazing educators and Microsoft leaders. Microsoft has truly stepped up to the plate in education the last couple of years; looking at purpose has become a great model for them. During the showcase after the keynote, I looked around and could literally see the focus: Windows 10S, Minecraft in Education, Mixed Reality, Surface Laptop, and of course Microsoft Classroom experience in Teams. We are fortunate in Omaha Public Schools to be able to work with the Microsoft Development Team on this experience.
One of the most memorable experiences was listening to Satya Nadella discuss his story. He started with his Great Grandmother in India and the decision on which son would go on to education. Satya's Grandfather was the son who got the education, and allowed opportunities to flow down lineage to Satya. His perspective on the value of education, and how technology can empower every person to achieve more, was the focus of his keynotes. "Technology alone can't provide the necessary education. Dedicated Administrators and Teachers, and involved communities are the ones changing education. Technology is the tool that empowers their creativity and their ingenuity."
Here are some pictures from the Microsoft Event.
A huge highlight of my trip was being able to Mystery Skype with my P4K classroom back in Omaha: the Skinner Elementary students that I get the opportunity to spend time with throughout the year. These kids help my heart; I love spending time with them and it was awesome to have them guess where I was at. One added bonus was that we were able to get them BrainPoP next year for free, since we talked Moby into it.
Of course I went to a Yankees game while I was there. Yankees came back to take the lead in the 7th inning, beating the Bluejays.
The Hill - Washington DC
Over the last 4 years our district has been in transformation mode. Much of our success is due to the ability to deploy a robust infrastructure to support the changes we want to see in the classroom. In December of 2014, E-Rate changed it's Category 2 funding to support the proliferation of WiFi in schools. This was key for us in Omaha, along with passing the largest bond issue in Nebraska history in November 2014. Both of these mechanisms allowed the district to move quickly to developing the network experience the district needed for initiatives coming down the road. In just 3 years, we have been able to experience $6.4 million in funding to support our infrastructure and internet capacities.
Keegan Korf, Lead Teacher of Digital Citizenship, and I had the opportunity to tell our story to Congressional members in D.C. It is a great story and is encompassed in this letter and points of pride document below.
An additional highlight of the trip was meeting directly with Senator Fischer. I appreciated how engaged she was in what good things we are doing in Omaha. We discussed many of the issues that we face in education locally, at the state level, as well as nationally. We also got the opportunity to discuss our Omaha Virtual School, the first in Nebraska history, and its ability to provide opportunities to students we hadn't served before.
Finally, we get to providing opportunities for future leaders of OPS. Our LAUNCH program provides existing staff a pipeline to school and district leadership. This last session we were able to introduce the Future Ready Framework and have Tom Murray, Director for Innovation for Future Ready Schools, a project of Alliance for Excellent Education, speak. Tom did an incredible job talking about his experience as a Principal, Director of Technology, and national experience in working with all of the sponsors of Future Ready. We had an incredible positive response from the LAUNCH participants and look forward to introducing the Future Ready Framework here in Omaha, as well as the State of Nebraska.
I am fortunate to be a part of the Future Ready Thought Leadership at the national level. District leaders must recognize the potential of digital tools and align necessary technologies with instructional goals to support teaching and learning. The Future Ready Framework helps align the correct measures and prepares schools and districts to make their best effort in providing a personalized learning experience for their students.
To learn more about Future Ready, click below.
We have an incredible story here at Omaha Public Schools. I invite you to visit our Transformation Site to see this journey.