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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Fort Thomas Independent Schools Leading Tech Boom in Region

A University of Kentucky graduate with a degree in English education and a minor in journalism, Diana McGhee, primarily an educator, teaches a journalism class at Highlands High School in addition to her job as the district’s director of technology and information. McGhee has worked for Fort Thomas Independent Schools since 1989 when she was hired as the middle school guidance counselor.

After Kentucky passed its master plan for technology in education in 1990, McGhee was appointed technology coordinator because of her reputation as a tinkerer. She was someone who would take things apart and put them back together just to see how they worked. McGhee has witnessed the vast shift of technology from back-office administrative functions into the classroom. Now it is a vital part of the lives of students and teachers. Her vision for the district states, “Our technology is utilized by teachers and students in transformative ways to enhance student achievement and to make real world global connections.”

McGhee and her staff are proud to have achieved a 1-to-1 ratio of technology devices to students. That involves far more than simply passing out computers. With a student population of 3,000, there is a tremendous amount of work involved preparing systems, imaging and testing MacBooks and iPads, and conducting orientation for students and parents. With a mid-August deadline, it doesn’t leave much time for a summer break.

With this digital conversion project accomplished, McGhee and the district face another challenge. How to determine if the investments in technology (time and opportunity as well as dollars) are making a difference. The challenge is to find a way to measure the change in outcomes. Not just in standardized test scores, but has technology prepared students to be competitive globally when they leave for college? McGhee’s goal is to focus on curiosity, collaboration, communication and creativity, touching all areas of a well-rounded 21st century digital learner. Focusing technology through that lens will create graduates able to contribute to their community as well as the global society.

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