by Peter Skibitzki
Over the last few months I have gone through countless drafts and revisions trying to put pen to paper in crafting a Presidential message befitting of CETPA’s 55th year as the recognized authority supporting educational technologists.
Every year you, our members, are faced with new obstacles and challenges and this year is no exception. Year after year you have amazed and astounded those you support by seeing through impediments to overcome and seize new opportunities in “Shaping the Future of Education through Technology.”
Over the past 55 years in education we have seen the role of technology and those who support it change drastically. The days of technology being relegated to the closet or backrooms of schools and district offices is long gone. The use of technology can be seen in every aspect of education from the classroom, to business, to facilities, to administration. CETPA and its nearly 1,200 members have become an integral component and partner in helping administrators, teachers, and parents educate the students of California.
Through initiatives such as the CTO Mentor program we are preparing current and future leaders from both the classified and certificated ranks to lead, develop and support educational technology in fostering student success. Now in its ninth year, the program has seen many of its graduates assume leadership roles as directors of IT, CTOs, and even superintendents.
CETPA has also seen its role as an organization change and evolve from a conference-driven organization to an influential partner in the educational arena. Over the past few years our board has negotiated several software licensing contracts to provide the nation’s best consortium pricing from software giants Microsoft and Adobe. The result is a savings to school districts in the hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.
On other fronts, the board is actively engaging in legislative advocacy at the state level and reaching out to other prominent statewide educational organizations to build partnerships and to promote funding for educational initiatives. Most recently the board worked with an outside consultant to develop a new strategic plan to support our changing role in educational technology. The experience was enlightening and beneficial and will be a guiding document for the board and our membership.
For this year’s conference we find ourselves returning to one of our most popular venues, beautiful San Diego. The entire conference will take center stage at the newly built Hilton San Diego Bayfront and conference center. Attendees will be able to take in a full schedule of breakout sessions, hands-on labs, and tech shoot-outs. Members can also get some one-on-one time with product engineers in the sandbox area and walk the vendor show featuring over 200 exhibitors. In addition, we have several featured speaker sessions and two world-class keynote speakers, Jeff Havens and Robyn Benincasa. It will be a rewarding and worthwhile experience for all who attend.
While preparing to put my final thoughts down for this message I received the sad news that one of CETPA’s own, Michael Schenck, had passed away. Michael was the director of technology at the Konocti Unified School District and a graduate of CETPA’s very first CTO Mentor cohort in 2007. Surrounded by family and loved ones, he passed peacefully at his home in Clearlake after a two-year battle with brain cancer. He was an enthusiastic supporter of educational technology and touched the lives of all he encountered with his fervor, energy, and passion for life. Michael embodied the community spirit we enjoy as members of CETPA and his contributions will be deeply missed. May you rest in peace, our friend and colleague.