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White Oak ISD educators honored for technology work; district chief finalist for superintendent award

By by Sarah Thomas
Feb. 6, 2013 at 11 p.m.

Three White Oak ISD educators were honored Tuesday during a meeting in Austin for their work with technology in the district.

Mitzi Neely was named District Administrator of the Year by the Texas Computer Education Association.

Neely is the director of curriculum and instruction and has been with WOISD for two years. She has 32 years experience in education.

"The TCEA is about recognizing the importance of technology in the teaching and learning process," Neely said. "We have a lot of neat things going on and a lot of technology, and we have a vision to integrate technology at all campuses and to fuse that piece with the instructional process."

The association named Pam Cranford the Instructional Technology Specialist of the Year for her work to bring WOISD to the front of the line in technology and its applications in learning.

"This means we are on the right track for our students' future," Cranford said. "It's not a curriculum, it's a tool. Ten thousand people came to this conference, and if you say White Oak, they know what school you're talking about."

Cranford has been with the White Oak school district for 29 years.

White Oak Superintendent Mike Gilbert also was recognized as one of the state's three finalists for Superintendent of the Year.

"We see technology as an intricate part of all students' education," he said.

WOISD has been steadily improving its use of technology since Gilbert took over the district six years ago.

The district has all students from third through 12th grades keeping blogs as part of an e-portfolio.

Cranford said each student maintains his or her blog throughout their time in WOISD. She said they can imbed videos, pictures, reports and projects. She added that the links can be used as part of a student's college application.

"These e-portfolios are becoming the new resumes," she said.

Gilbert said the e-portfolios also can be used to monitor student success.

"We are using e-portfolios to show a student's mastery of learning standards and also to showcase their work and their projects," he said.

Gilbert said 80 percent of White Oak teachers are trained in project-based learning, which is a collaborative approach to learning that incorporates technology.

WOISD has implemented a variety of technologies during the past few years, including iPads, iPod Touches, MacBooks and PC labs.

"We are transforming our classrooms from the old model to a model that is good for 21st century learning," he said.

Neely said she is proud of the role the district is taking in making sure its students are not left behind as the world continues to incorporate more technology into everyday activities.

"Nothing replaces teaches but the teachers' ability to integrate technology into the classroom helps engage students in the learning process," she said.



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