NEWPORT NEWS — Hundreds of faculty members gathered at Gildersleeve Middle School Aug. 13-14 to learn about new technologies available at Newport News Public Schools and how to integrate it in their lesson plans.
The iNNovate Technology Conference featured 100 unique topics over two days, with sessions lasting anywhere from one to three hours. It was open to all school employees, including teachers, teaching assistants, administrative staff, bus drivers, custodians and cafeteria employees.
About 400 people showed up the first day and around 350 people the second. Attendance was optional.
This was the conference’s second year, said Bille Hart, ITC supervisor for NNPS.
“I love feedback from teachers and sharing with other teachers their experiences and that they will use it (the technology) in their classrooms,” Hart said.
She said some teachers told her it was “the best professional development they had in years”.
The iNNovate conference was ran by 25 NNPS Information Technology coaches, current teachers, former employees and volunteers.
There were innovation stations, including a ‘Green Screen’, various keynote speakers, including Nancye Blair-Black, an international education consultant, and even a customer service IT help desk.
Hart, along with Lindsey Smith, ITC coach for Greenwood and General Stanford Elementary schools, Allison Stetar, ITC for Woodside High School, and Brandie Wright, technology coordinator for NNPS, were in charge of the entire event.
The NNPS technology department primarily funds the conference and received donations from the event’s three main sponsors: The International Society for Technology in Education, the Virginia Society for Technology in Education and Dell, which provided computer and even one of the keynote speakers, Matt Dascoli, business development manager at Dell.
Wright, who has worked for NNPS for 10 years, was responsible for reaching out to the community, different vendors and partners to help sponsor the iNNovate Technology Conference or donate merchandise to teachers. She was also in charge of social media engagement and posted weekly reminders about different sessions offered at the conference.
Participants were encouraged to post photos to social media during the conference, using the hashtag: #NNPSiNNovate. It received a lot of feedback, Wright said.
“It’s never too late to learn any technology and start integrating it,” she said. “Our team will always be here for them.”