More than 50 leaders and educators representing 22 K-12 school districts across the Hudson Valley gathered at SUNY New Paltz on Oct. 11 for a day-long event focused on classroom technologies that are increasingly fundamental to young learners’ experiences from preschool to high school.
The SUNY Smart Schools Summit planning and organization was led by Assistant Professor Kiersten Greene, with support from other faculty and staff in the School of Education, the Center for Innovation in Education and the Benjamin Center. It responds to the 2014 passage of the Smart Schools Bond Act, which provided for $2 billion in state funding to support technology purchases in schools across the state.
With many New York schools now anticipating a significant influx of laptops, tablets, interactive whiteboards and other modern classroom equipment, the College recognized an opportunity to bring teachers together to discuss issues related to connectivity and security and develop best practices for using new hardware.
“This summit is an exemplar of something we believe is a hallmark of our School of Education: our commitment to community outreach and partnerships with schools around New York State,” said Michael Rosenberg, dean of the School of Education. “The Smart Schools Bond Act gives New Paltz a great opportunity to convene teachers, scholars and professionals to think together about how best to implement these new technologies.”
One affirmation of SUNY New Paltz’s role in supporting education in the Hudson Valley was evident by the turnout to this summit: Of the more than 50 educators and administrators in attendance, roughly half are alumni of the School of Education.
“The number of alumni here with us today demonstrates the wisdom of this statute,” said Gerald Benjamin, director of the Benjamin Center. “Simply providing access to modern communication technology resources is insufficient; you also have to provide teachers with support and collaborative opportunities to make full use of these technologies. The statute recognizes that the most efficient way of creating these opportunities is through the institutions that are already in place and devoted to ensuring that teachers and school administrators are well-prepared. As the leading regional institution for the preparation of educators, SUNY New Paltz is a natural fit for this role.”
The day’s program offered attendees a mix of informational sessions about the Smart Schools Bond Act, from experts at the New York State Education Department; overviews of the many uses of diverse technologies in the classroom, from leaders in education and private companies; and group workshops engendering conversation about successful uses of different technologies, the kinds of training that are needed to enable teachers to bring theory into practice, and the learning outcomes modern education tools can help promote.
More information about the School of Education is available online.