In late-May I received an interesting call from our deputy superintendent who told me about a local community group that was curious about putting iPads into a middle school. Specificaly, they wanted to start a three-year, phased-in implementation where, at the end of three years, students at all three grade levels would have iPads. Their goal was really just to see what we could do; what would happen.
I had spent my first two years as principal creatively getting as much technology into the school as possible: MacBook carts, iPads, iPod Touches, Apple TVs… Whenever I had the financial resources and a teacher demonstrated an aptitude and interest, I’d do what I could to make it happen. I didn’t set up an “application process” or create any hoops to jump through. I wanted to empower teachers to try something new and different. And it was starting to work.
I can only assume that all of this had not gone unnoticed because when my deputy superintendent called me she asked something like, “Are you sitting down?” She then proceeded to tell me about this iPad opportunity and how she felt I was the principal to take this on.
I met with the board of the foundation the next week and they explained in more detail their vision. I guess I did a fair job of telling them what I thought we could do at my school because the very next day my deputy superintendent called back and told me to sit down again. The foundation, she said, wanted to do a whole-school, 1:1 implementation right out of the gate and they were going to find the funds to make it happen.
Now, during all this time, none of this was set in stone. It was a handshake here, an email there, and I didn’t believe it was real until the last week in July. In a perfect world, I’d have had the last week of school to share the news and all summer for teachers to play with iPads and get comfortable. I’d had none of that. My leadership team were the only ones who knew about the possibility, but all of us were pretty tight-lipped about it until I went before the Board of Education on August 1, 2012, to take questions along with our Director of Curriculum & Instruction.
The BoE was supposed to vote two weeks later, but voted unanimously on the spot to support the project. They asked a lot of questions and, honestly, I was so nervous I don’t remember many of them. I remember them asking the usual and expected questions about how this would help student achiement, what would happen if one got lost, stolen, or broken, and how the cost would be covered.
As of Wednesday night, we are officially the second 1:1 iPad public school in Colorado, I figured I’d better start writing some of this down for my own reflection and so others might benefit. So far it’s been an incredible ride!