Kemble gets tech-savvy award
When Jerri Kemble started working at Centre School District, the school system only had desktop computers. Now technology is integrated into every aspect of the educational system.
“Large districts have a good dose of bureaucracy — dozens of boards and plenty of committees,” she said. “But because we are small, we can make things happen right away. If you find something and you know it’s good for kids, you don’t have to wait 12 months for the decision to be approved. We can say, ‘We’re just going to do it.’ We’re not going to relent in trying to give each student the best education possible.”
Kemble has been the superintendent for six years. In that time, she has been pushing to get computers out of the lab and into the hands of area children. For her, technology should be a tool for learning, and integrated into every classroom. Over the years, she has seen children, who used to settle for what was being taught, develop a keen interest — and a desire to go further and deeper into different subject areas. As a result, Kemble said students are learning to love the educational process.
“It’s really exciting to see that as an educator,” she said. “Gone are the days when you had to sign out a computer and do all of your research then in a room with just a couple computers in it. We have a robust wireless server now that allows everyone to get on the Internet at once. Kids are doing research all the time, even during their free time, and that really adds to the learning process.”
Always having Internet, apps and other software at their fingertips has really aided the educational process, Kemble said. Instead of pushing students to do a written book report, they are creating iMovies, incorporating not just the written word, but sounds and visuals as well.
“Technology is the hook that gets kids moving,” she said. “It’s not the future; it’s what we’re living in now. If the kids can create something on an iPad or Macbook, they are willing to learn or try almost anything. Teachers have been amazed with the progress the kids have been making.”
Kemble said a huge part of the school’s technological integration has been the assistance of their technology integration specialist. If something goes wrong or if teachers need extra help in the classroom, the specialist will go into the classroom and teach the teacher as well as the students at the same time.
“Teachers aren’t reluctant to do anything,” she said. “If they have questions, they just call the specialist in and they work through it together.”
As a result, students have been able to do things they never imagined they’d be able to do. Some students, she said have started to do some sports broadcasting at Centre games.
“It’s just another tool the kids can use to learn a skill,” she said. “They’re learning organizational skills, they’re looking at stats and using verbal, sometimes, impromptu communication. It’s real-world experience and they can get it before they leave high school.”
It is because of Kemble’s accomplishments that she was selected to be honored with the Tech-Savvy Superintendent Award from Kansas State University. Kemble is currently doing her dissertation on the way technology moves school districts toward progress and the methods school superintendents are using to achieve that. She said there isn’t a lot of material already available on the subject and is looking forward to doing more research in the months ahead.