Q&A: District Leader Discusses His Schools’ Journey to Becoming #FutureReady
July 22, 2015 02:01 pm
The following Q&A features Jason Molesky, executive director of technology and data services at Lake Area Public Schools in Lakeville Minnesota. Mr. Molesky and his district have taken the Future Ready pledge, making a firm commitment to implementing meaningful changes toward a digital learning transition that supports teachers, and addresses the district’s vision for student learning. The Alliance asked Mr. Molesky about his experience with the Future Ready Initiative.
Alliance for Excellent Education: What is your role in the Lake Area Public Schools district?
Jason Molesky: Currently, I manage our technology, student information system, digital learning, and data management teams. In addition, I coordinate state and federal accountability testing and provide data analysis and program evaluation. I’m fortunate in that my role allows me to work in several of my passions: statistics and data analysis, technology, and digital learning. I have worked in our district since 1998, transitioning from the AP Statistics classroom to district assessment in 2008. Since that time, my role transitioned slowly into its current state in August, 2014.
Before the Future Ready Schools Regional Summit, how would you describe the digital learning environment in your district?
Prior to the Future Ready Schools Summit, our district was in the early stages of exploring digital learning options in the classroom. Over the past several school years, a growing number of classrooms across our system have been utilizing 1:1 digital approaches through grant opportunities and local fundraising and donation initiatives. Further, after a complete overhaul of our network infrastructure, robust wireless capabilities allowed us to pilot Bring Your Own Device approaches in several of our schools. At this point, our learning and observations from both the 1:1 and BYOD pilots have positioned us to expand digital learning opportunities district wide.
What was the most useful resource/information you received from the Future Ready Schools regional summit?
The regional summit was invaluable in providing our district with a framework that not only validates our work with technology, networks, and infrastructure, but also highlights other areas for consideration. The Future-Ready Dashboard and self-assessment tools have served as a powerful assessment of our current state and provided detailed direction and suggestions for our next steps. Not only are were the physical resources and information valuable, but the networking with other school districts across the United States will prove to be useful for collaboration and continued learning as we all work to make our schools future-ready.
How do you feel the information and resources presented at the summit will impact teachers in your district? What about students?
The most valuable aspect about the information and resources at the summit is that every discussion, every tool, every process, every suggestion was focused on one thing – improved student learning. Our district’s learning at the summit has helped drive our Future-Ready Vision and enabled us to develop a Future-Ready Plan that will serve to benefit both our teachers, students, and community. We will utilize all that we learned to fully realize our vision of personalizing learning and developing future-ready students through access to, integration of, and support for the use of digital tools and resources.
What was most surprising about the results of your district’s self-assessment results?
The results of our district’s self-assessment aligned with our observations of our work over the past few years. While we are confident we have the infrastructure in place to support digital learning in our district, we recognize the need for improvement in professional learning and curriculum, instruction, and assessment to truly transform our practices to develop future-ready students. While the results themselves were not surprising, we were amazed at the detailed information provided within each category. This information was instrumental in helping us develop a Future-Ready Plan to drive our district’s work over the next few years.
What challenges does your district face as they engage in the transition to digital learning? Or what will be the biggest challenge your district faces as you transition to digital learning?
Like many districts, our biggest challenge will be securing the budget and resources necessary to fully realize our Future-Ready/Digital Learning Vision. While our work to this point has resulted in a clearly articulated vision and plan, that plan does come with a cost. With no dedicated funding sources and competing priorities for existing resources, finding the means necessary to increase access to digital tools for our students will be our biggest challenge. However, we are confident that our learning from the summit, our pilot approaches over the past few years, and our collaboration with other district on this journey have resulted in a plan that will help generate support for additional resources four our students.
What are you most looking forward to as you and your educators move forward with your Future Ready / Technology plan for the 2016-18 year?
Our district is most looking forward to transforming learning for our students. We have transitioned our technology plan from a focus on devices to a focus on student learning. We look forward to leveraging the power of digital tools, exploring additional teaching options for our teachers, and providing greater learning opportunities for our students.
What would you change about upcoming Future Ready Schools Regional Summits to improve the experience?
The Regional Summit was an extremely valuable experience! Being able to work with others, hear from experts, [and] share our current successes and challenges were all greatly appreciated. Our district would not recommend changing a thing!
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