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District 191 technology leader earns state recognition

Already recognized for her leadership in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191, Instructional Technology Coordinator Rachel Gorton has now been honored with the Minnesota Technology Leader Award by TIES, an educational technology collaborative with 48 member school districts.

Gorton has played a critical leadership role in developing the vision of 21st century learning in District 191, helping to create the district’s three-year technology plan that focuses on increased access to digital resources for students, ongoing meaningful professional development for teachers, and integration of digital curriculum throughout schools. She was also instrumental in developing and building support for a $25 million technology referendum, passed by voters as part of Vision One91 in February 2015.

“Rachel’s leadership has been instrumental in shaping the digital technology culture of our school district,” said Superintendent Dr. Joe Gothard.

In the fall of 2016, Gorton led a successful roll-out of 1-to-1 Chromebooks at Burnsville High School. By involving staff and student leaders, the school was able to get more than 2,000 students logged into and using their Chromebooks, Google Apps accounts and the school’s online learning management system, all within a matter of hours. Moreover, because of Gorton’s insight and focus on learning, the 1-to-1 program has always been about equitable access to resources and opportunities, rather than a hardware and software plan.

In addition, over the past two years, Gorton has led professional development work surrounding new digital resources, including Google Apps, the Synergy student information system, Schoology and myON reader. She is leading curriculum and instruction changes regarding digital learning at all levels, working to implement technology standards with Burnsville High School’s Digital Transition Team, media specialists at the middle schools, and with the newly created Digital Learning Specialists at elementary schools.

“Rachel’s past, present and future commitment to using technology as a tool to improve the teaching process and increase engagement of students has and will continue to have a dramatic impact on our entire K-12 school system,” said Technology Director Doug Johnson.

Gorton points to the district’s unifying vision and commitment to building a strong community as the major reason so much has change and growth has been possible in District 191 schools.

“I am extremely proud of the work and progress we have made over a very short amount of time,” she said. “There have been so many positive elements that have come together including rethinking physical space, examining school culture, shifting instructional strategies, moving to student-centered learning activities, emphasis and support for students to be future-ready. Technology has played a significant role in all of these areas.”

“The most exciting thing happening in District 191 is that overall there is increased energy, excitement, and pride,” added Gorton, a graduate of Burnsville High School whose two children attend District 191 schools. “I see strong messages of community, commitment, and pride on our school bulletin boards, digital signs, and in social media. There are so many reasons for these changes, but I like to think that access to technology has helped drive this new understanding of who we are as a district.”

Gorton received the award at the TIES 2016 Educational Technology Conference on Dec. 12.

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Posted: Friday, December 16, 2016 - 09:12