With a background in teaching and working on special projects for the Department of Education, Keller was recently hired as the director of eLearning for The Metropolitan School District of Warren Township. Having joined the Warren Township team in 2013, Keller has already tackled some of the district’s most complex challenges, including the implementation of the district’s Race to the Top grant.
After reviewing the grant proposal, it was obvious that Warren Township needed to integrate technology into its daily curriculum and pedagogy. “We wanted to work in an environment that was truly digitally enhanced, instead of the three, four or five computers in each classroom, which was a typical approach up until the time I came,” says Keller. Diving head first into a 1:1 implementation, Keller was part of the team that chose Chromebooks as the device of choice, which he felt would best enable equal access to technology among students. Additionally, the district had migrated to Gmail and Google apps the year prior, making the Chromebook deployment even more relevant.
Recognizing a need for professional development, Keller worked with a team to ensure teachers were trained on the new technology - first covering the basics and eventually moving toward complete integration with classroom curriculum. In the 2015 school year, the professional development focus will be on personalized learning. “We’re focusing on infusing student voice and student choice into lesson plans throughout this coming year,” says Keller. This move to help teachers loosen the reins on instruction allows students to take control of their education.
Beyond helping to launch a 1:1 initiative and supporting a technology professional development program, Keller also developed a request for proposal to transition traditional curriculum into digital content. With unlimited licenses to digital content, Keller conducted a pilot program for online courses. These classes expanded into summer school options and will be offered for credit at the start of the new school year. “Now that the technology is here, and we’re beginning year two, this year is going to be the year we see real changes at the classroom level, both through virtual programs and blended programs,” says Keller.
Keller’s involvement in changes at Warren Township can be felt across all levels of staff, teachers and students. In an effort to understand the connectivity availability for students at home, Keller distributed a survey among 7th through 12th graders, where students were asked what they liked about the Chromebooks. “One of the themes that came out was the students really loved the access they had to their teachers on a 24/7 basis,” says Keller.
“I hope in the coming years, that in addition to having great access to their teachers, students will begin to comment about being more engaged and having more voice and choice,” Keller says.