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Principal Rolaetta Alford: Education Entrepreneur

Maryland principal3 If I could gather a group of educators to answer the how to get technology question, I would include Principal Rolaetta Alford, of the Carmody Hills Elementary School, Prince Georges County, MD, as one of the first to share.

It seems that, lately, I'm not only talking with compassionate educators and administrators, but also with education entrepreneurs. I mean that last part in a good way. Education entrepreneurs, like Alford, know that the things they need for students, teachers, and school community don't come knocking at the door without an invitation. And that's why Alford goes after them. She is not at all bashful about it either. You can see the gleam in her eyes when she talks pilot programs, and I'm certain that her brilliant smile will help attract more. Using her technique, isn't a bad idea.

As I Followed Rolaetta Alford, through the school day, it was obvious she hadn't forgotten her teaching experiences. Alford went from parent and student hugs in the hallway, praising individual students and introducing teachers, correcting line behavior, greeting parents, running an assembly, and making time to be interviewed by me. She was all over the place. If anyone needs a refresher in how to lead a building, visit Carmody Hills--just for a day.

Lex2 The classes are a mix of traditional and technology. I talked with 2nd-career fourth-grade teacher Evelyn Adams, who went from sharpening pencils to Turning Technologies responder software to Lexmark Multifunction daily quiz scanning. I chatted with a language arts teacher using netbooks as journals, a math teacher discovering technology with the help of his students. and a third-grade teacher using Interwrite/eInstruction whiteboards and online options, like Study Island. Then, and I'm seeing this more and more, a kindergarten teacher gave me a lesson in technology use with 5-year olds. Even the assistant principal shared that IEPs using technology help them decide correct placement by organizing and keeping track of what's been done, to better decide what needs to be done.

Netbook Kids

Sometimes the coolest things happen when you least expect them. I was observing a science lesson, Netbook1b where students were creating presentations using their netbooks. I decided to video interview a few students. At the end of the short interview, a student looked up at me from her desk and said, " I just recorded the whole thing." She had. Using her netbook, the student-observer switched from her research work, fired up the onboard camera and video, and recorded the interview I'd just done with her classmates. She even had grabbed some still images. It was a great case for students using technology seamlessly, rather than as only for paint-by-numbers too. The technology is certainly a part of each day for each student and teacher at Carmody Hills.

Just before leaving, I asked its leader, Alford, what she was going to go after next, and she didn't skip a beat. "Apple iPads! I want them for my kids," she said. Look out Apple, Rolaetta is looking for a conversation; I'm betting on Alford.

There's a new breed of administrator out there, and they mean business! 

Please look for my Carmody Hills Video Coverage at Scholastic Administrator!

Note: This post written and published, at altitude, from a US Airways jet.

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