As a child, I was exposed to music and computer instruction early on. It may, then, be no surprise that I value the roles music and technology play in my life and those of others.
In high school, I joined a friend to form a business partnership, exercising our newfound skills to create software programs and design on the computer using desktop publishing software.
In college, I helped a friend develop webpages and graphics for our university’s first website. I’ve written concertos, a string quartet, a trio of fanfares based upon the Fibonacci sequence, and a six-part fugue for trombone choir.
And today I lead within our district and outside, to promote student engagement with learning through deeper learning approaches, enhanced and aided by technology. In 2018, in an article written about a business and education roundtable event that I helped plan and execute, an attendee remarked that my picture deserved to be in the dictionary next to the term creativity.
The following text illustrates my skills and examples of leadership.
Visionary and Critical Thinker
One of the skills I have recognized that plays a role in almost all my work is the ability to think forward, what’s next?, how can this be improved upon?, how can we innovate?, and wouldn’t this be better if…? One of my favorite roles within a meeting is to brainstorm new ideas and to strategize about how to make improvements to our objectives or programs. I apply these skills to my own work, but also to my collaborative efforts with others.
Example: As part of the planning team in Goochland County Public Schools for our Business and Education Roundtable, I came up with the idea of improving our previous meetings by moving the setting to our high school’s learning commons, so that participants could see our digs and meet our students. The energy in that space was a world of difference from the previous forum held off-site. Since our purpose was to try and engage area business leaders in our work, and to ultimately enhance the educational experience of our students, it made sense to bring them “home.” This new location was maintained for the subsequent meeting, where we showed a video I produced to capture the diversity of students and programs at Goochland High School. One student from the video made such an impression, he was given a job offer that morning.
At the core of my management philosophy is a desire to take a complex project and simplify the processes required to achieve success. Often times the complexity isn’t removed, but I use a clear communication plan to break-down the complex processes into smaller, more understandable steps. This plan is then communicated with our team, input in sought, and then we set our objectives and deadlines.
Example: For the deployment of iPad devices to students and parents in evening meetings, we encountered a complex requirement of signing up each child with an Apple ID by having their parents complete an online form, then they had to receive an e-mail from Apple. In addition, the evening included fee collection, the need to communicate with families in Spanish, and to get every child logged into their new iPad before a program overview was held for all parents. Using a Functional Flow Diagram, I mapped out the procedures that would be required to onboard parents, get students their Apple IDs, collect fees, and in general, get everyone where they needed to be by the evening’s end. This led to several successful events that included Goochland staff and engineer support from Apple. In turn, our diagram was submitted to Apple in an effort to help them streamline the deployment process for schools purchasing 1:1 iPads.
Writing comes naturally to me. But in today’s world, there are even more vehicles we have to share our message and to engage a variety of stakeholders. In my work as an educator, we use social media platforms, videos and YouTube, our website, and written and digital text to help bring our message to a wide audience. As a hobby, I write music reviews of classical and jazz recordings to help entice others to explore the recordings and to be informed before purchase. I produce podcast episodes to share my love of Bach’s music by using my own spoken voice alongside quotes of musical material.
Example: For our school division’s convocation exercises in 2018, we wanted an effective way to explore the theme of “relationships matter.” I wrote a movie script that put our superintendent in the role of having to pick up a colleague after the event started (humor never hurts), and then he runs afoul with more adventures in his way back to the high school. The task of writing an effective script allowed me to explore my own creative potential, and provided humor as we explored examples of how our relationships make a difference with our success. You can watch an edited version of the movie here. In addition to writing the script, I starred in the film and edited the movie.
Throughout my work in Goochland County, I have designed several models for how we can all think about learning. In 2007, I created the G21 Framework for project-based learning based on research-based learning theory and recent work at the time around twenty-first century skills. That work underpinned my approach in working with school principals, teachers, and flavored the professional development we provided toward a common goal of exposing students to relevant learning experiences that gave them exposure to skills that transcended any one subject. I believe in the power of collective decision making, the importance of listening to others, and providing others with inspiration as they consider changing teaching and learning paradigms. My work has been recognized many times over with awards. Behind everything, I have felt it is important to share, to publish, and to engage in activities that help promote good ideas. This speaks to my participation with professional organizations such as VSTE, my desire to present at conferences, and publish articles about our professional work.
Example: In 2005, blogging was hot. The concept was already going on eight years old, but it hadn’t yet taken hold in schools. That year I led an effort we later called the Goochland Blogging Initiative, to have every teacher maintain a weblog to improve the communication between the classroom and our students’s homes. After gaining the support of our superintendent and principals, we launched over two-hundred blogs and provided training on what made a good blog. We looked at scores of models outside schools. And we answered a lot of questions, such as “why is this important?” or “what are you trying to do?” This initiative was in line with our thinking about learning. That creation was important. That having a voice was important.
Our ultimate goal was that if teachers became model digital citizens and showed students and their families how easily they could have a voice in an online space, that it would translate to student blogging and podcasting in our classrooms. The possibilities were wide open. I took my own ideas and those we’d enacted in Goochland County when writing my book in 2006-2007. In 2008, RSS for Educators was published, the second book written on blogging as an educational practice. Our project was picked up by Teachers Magazine among others, at the national level. And because of our blogging effort, in 2006, I was recognized as the Technology Leader of the Year by the Virginia Department of Education.
- French Films
- Music Collecting/Listening/Audiophilia