The Follett Experience
[ALA News] Dr. Mark Edwards, 2013 Superintendent of the Year and digital revolutionary, to speak at AASL President's Program
Mark Edwards, the 2013 American Association of School Administrators (AASA) National Superintendent of the Year and recent host to President Obama during the announcement of the White House's ConnectED initiative, will speak at the American Association of School Librarians' (AASL) President's Program at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 29. Called the leader of a "digital revolution," the Mooresville (N.C.) Graded School District (MGSD) Superintendent will speak on the fundamental rethinking of teaching and learning.
To create a vibrant new learning environment and achieve outstanding academic results in MGSD, Edwards launched an innovative digital conversion project. This 1:1 laptop program has provided 6,000 laptops to all 3rd – 12th graders and their teachers within the school district in the last five years. In an article for AASA's professional journal, Edwards described the impetus behind the conversion, "When a district has students with no access to technology at home, no access to libraries and limited educational opportunities, there is a moral imperative to level the playing field. That moral imperative is what drives the rationale behind our digital conversion — it allows us to close the digital divide, the opportunity divide and the hope divide among our students."
Building off of a previous laptop initiative he directed as superintendent of Henrico County (Va.) Public Schools, Edwards established intense and ongoing professional training for Mooresville educators and implemented curricular changes with raised expectations for collaboration between educators in the schools. He documents this process and lays out a roadmap for other districts to follow in his recently published book, "Every Child, Every Day: A Digital Conversion Model for Student Achievement."
It was the success of Mooresville's digital conversion project that drew President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to Mooresville Middle School during their "Jobs and Opportunity" tour. Against a backdrop of a school successfully moving into the 21st century and beyond, President Obama announced his new ConnectED initiative, which will connect 99 percent of America's students to the digital age through next-generation broadband and high-speed wireless in their schools and libraries.
"It is a real honor to be able to bring Dr. Edwards to ALA as the AASL President's Program speaker," said Susan Ballard, AASL president. "In the original development of the program, our aim was to provide an opportunity for our members, and other ALA attendees, to better understand the most compelling needs of students and what we can do to ensure they are met. We look forward to this event where he will share his insight and expertise in the development of a culture that values and relies on librarians to address academic and social concerns in a meaningful, strategic and engaged way."
The 2013 President's Program and Edwards' appearance are made possible by the generous sponsorship of Follett. "To further illustrate Follett's commitment to school libraries, ALA, and AASL, we are pleased to bring Dr. Edwards and his inspirational message to Chicago as part of our Project Connect library advocacy program," said Todd Litzsinger, president, content solutions and services, Follett. "Through Project Connect, Follett is joining education leaders, including Dr. Edwards and ALA/AASL leadership - Susan Ballard, Gail Dickinson, and Barbara Stripling - to raise the profile of librarians while connecting the library with the classroom and influencing digital decisions."
Edwards agreed, "Project Connect is an exciting and dynamic collaborative effort of superintendents, librarians and school leaders that has the potential to impact schools in America in a profound way. I am honored to be included in this endeavor."
"I am exceedingly grateful to Follett for its help and support to make Dr.Edwards' appearance possible," said Ballard. She also expressed her gratitude to Edwards as he agreed to replace the 2013 program's originally scheduled speaker, Jonathan Kozol – a renowned writer, educator and activist, best known for his books on public education in the U.S.
The AASL President's Program and Membership Meeting is an annual event featuring prominent experts on issues relevant to school librarianship and is open to all registered conference attendees. For more information about this and other AASL programs at the ALA 2013 Annual Conference in Chicago, visit www.ala.org/aasl/annual.
The American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library field.
Follett is the largest provider of educational materials and technology solutions to PreK-12 libraries, classrooms, learning centers and school districts in the United States, and a major supplier to educational institutions worldwide. Follett distributes books, reference materials, digital resources, eBooks and audiovisual materials, as well as pre-owned textbooks. Follett also is one of the leading providers of integrated educational technology for the management of physical and digital assets, the tracking, storing and analyzing of academic data, and digital learning environment tools for the classroom focusing on student achievement.