Gulf Shores High School

Gulf Shores, AL

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Recently, Baldwin County Public Schools' Jeremy King and 32 school system technology leaders became the first graduates of the Alabama Chief Technology Officer certification program. The year-long program was established by the Alabama Educational Technology Association in 2016. The credential is the first of its kind in the state. It was designed for those who manage the technology programs in Alabama’s school systems.

AETA’s program is similar in structure and complexity to that of the school Chief Financial Officer Program developed by the Alabama School Business Officers organization,” said Mrs. Kelli Lane, the Association’s Vice-President for Professional Learning.

Today’s school systems rely heavily on technology for enhancing educational opportunities for students. In addition, like any other employer with multiple campuses, they depend on technology for their communications, business functions, and operations, including safety. Being in charge of a school system’s technology program requires extensive knowledge in many different areas from networking and data management to instructional design and privacy concerns.

Unlike school system finance directors, who nearly all have degrees in accounting, school system technology directors come from several different backgrounds. Some have teaching and administrative certifications, some have IT and technical backgrounds, and others have business degrees or experience. Our program was designed knowing this. It ensures school systems that no matter what area of expertise their technology director came with, they will graduate from the CTO program with a good command of all the different areas it takes to do the job well.”

Candidates for the AL-CTO program must have several years' experience in the field in order to be accepted. The year-long program includes eight courses.

CTO Roles and Responsibilities
* Law, Ethics and Policies
* Data Management and Governance
* Teaching and Learning
* Models of Professional Learning
* IT Management
* Technology Planning * Finance and Budgeting

Although colleges offer degrees in technology management and even advanced degrees in educational technology, there is nothing that quite prepares you for this job, said Glen Granberry, Technology Director from Lee County Schools.

“This job is so complex, demanding, and fast-paced it will challenge any newcomer well beyond what they expect, We even have some college professors enrolled in the beta cohort. They approached us about taking the course because they are interested in better understanding the job’s demands in order to improve their various educational technology offerings.” Granberry, AETA’s president, is one of this year’s CTO graduates. The AL-CTO graduates came from throughout the state. Many of their superintendents traveled to Montgomery to see them receive their certificates.