For award-winning principal, tech is a way of life

Jill Martin: 'This affects every course, from physical education to foreign languages. It's really changed how we do business.'

Jill Martin, principal of the Thomas B. Doherty High School in Colorado Springs, Colo., is the 2007 national principal of the year. She took an underperforming school and made it one of the best in the state.

But it's her commitment to personalizing the learning environment - through technology - that won her the award from the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and MetLife, reports eSchoolNews.

"Technology is a wonderful tool that can enhance student motivation and learning," says Martin, who was honored by the NASSP in a ceremony Oct. 13. "Beyond the obvious benefits of word processing, using the internet purposefully for research enables students to utilize information from many different sources."

And technology is not just about improving students' experience.

"Teachers, too, can be far more creative if given the necessary training to use PowerPoint, probeware, and other technology to support instruction."

As part of her vision for a strong school, Martin believes a teacher's ability to access information about his or her students is a major benefit in molding how courses are taught, further personalizing the classroom experience for students. "Our teachers access data about their students' previous and current levels of achievement and use this information to collaboratively improve instruction and assessment," she said.

While some school barely pull together a single computer lab, Doherty High boasts eight, some of which are some curriculum-specific, others open, and all busy throughout the day.

Martin's school features a program that allows parents and students to access information about the classroom and grades.

"It has been very effective in supporting the home-school partnership and helping students be more responsible as well as accountable for missing assignments, knowing what their grade is, or questioning attendance," she said. "Communication with parents and students is a key factor in high-achieving schools."

And tech isn't limited to the compuer lab, or the classroom.

Martin believes the use of technologies such as interactive whiteboards with remote-control clickers for students to weigh in on questions, as well as programs such as web site design, a Cisco Networking Academy, Project Lead the Way, computer-aided design, and a nationally recognized, technology-based automotive program, have all contributed to making Doherty one of the best schools in the country. In addition, she said, technology is infused throughout the curriculum to enhance teaching and learning.

"This affects every course, from physical education to foreign languages," she said. In short, "it's really changed how we do business."

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