PLYMOUTH – Katherine Ware works in a small office with a world of technology at her fingertips.
Ware, the new technology, classroom media and library coordinator for the local school district, usually has six computers, plus an iPad and a smartphone on her large desk.
They are the tools of the trade as they oversee the vast amount of information being disseminated by local schools for their students and staff. And over the next year, Ware is committed to having all of these technologies transform the way teachers teach and students learn for the better.
Ware was born in West Africa to missionary parents, grew up in northern New Jersey and was a professional educator.
She served as a teacher and library specialist in schools in Garden State and most recently in Cape Cod for 15 years before replacing Julia Colby, who was the district’s technology coordinator for the past seven years. Colby retired for the summer.
Originally a high school English teacher, Ware spent the last three years serving as a library media and technology specialist in Chatham and Harwich for the Monomoy Regional School District.
Your first assignment in Plymouth will be to oversee the completion of the district laptop rollout for every student in the district.
The need for distance learning during the pandemic has led local schools (as well as most schools in the country) to provide students with their own devices for home learning.
In Plymouth, this was achieved by purchasing thousands of Chromebook computers, but also by allowing older students to use their own devices for school assignments. That changes this year as the district finishes distributing its own Chromebooks to each of its 7,318 students.
School equipment provides more security and protection, said Ware, and enables her and the district to update or add applications and software for all students with the push of a button.
Ware has ambitious plans for what students and teachers do with all of this technology.
“Every school district has been forced to have one-on-one classes because of COVID and now the districts are asking where we should go from?” Ware said. She worked with a group called New Pedagogies for Deeper Learning, which focuses on higher-order learning and thinking, as well as using digital technologies to transform learning.
As an example, she cited a project she completed with fourth graders in Chatham. As part of their state fair projects, students usually research another state in the state and report what makes it special. It usually includes tri-fold posters and perhaps a sample of the state’s favorite foods.
Using technology, Ware was able to challenge students to look deeper and report to a wider audience.
They identified a problem in the state, reached out to state officials for their point of view, recorded Zoom interviews, and then put it all into a Google presentation and posted it on the school website. Ware even taught students how to create QR codes so their parents and others can access the projects while they are taking a photo at the show.
Ware said she has started meeting with teachers in local elementary schools to find new ways they use technology in their classrooms. By the end of the year, even kindergarten kids could teach their parents something they didn’t know about their devices, she said.
Ware worked with Colby over the summer to prepare for the new position. She said that in many ways they think alike, and looking at Colby’s plans was like looking into their own future.
Ware said her vision for local schools is to help students develop skills that will enable them to thrive and thrive in a developing global society.
For students, this means not just using technology as a learning tool, but thinking in new and deeper ways, developing new and creative ideas, and broadening their learning.
Teachers can expect to reflect on their teaching practice and recognize how their students are learning and sharing learning in ways previously unimaginable.
Ware said parents will see a change in the way their children use technology to use digital media and think critically so that they are ready for technological advances as they step into global society beyond the classroom .
Ware is married to a teacher. Her husband works as a math specialist in New Bedford schools. You have a daughter, a seventh grader.