At TCEA, we have the incredible privilege of supporting our members and helping them to advance teaching and learning through technology. We try to share the innovative work that our members are doing so that our other readers and followers can be inspired and learn some tips and tricks from educators in the field. Today, we’re spotlighting a seasoned educator in her 25th year of of teaching and technology service.
Patricia Startz is currently the Technology Director at Falls City ISD, south of San Antonio. Her long and impressive career began with earning her bachelor’s in Mathematics and Computer Science, along with a teaching certification, from Southwest Texas State University (now known as Texas State University). She started a job at Falls City the very next Monday after graduating and never looked back! In her time there, she also managed to get a master’s degree from Lamar University in Educational Technology Leadership and Administration in 2012.
Putting Out Tech Fires and Supporting New Initiatives
Patricia is always on the lookout for what can go wrong and how to best address problems before they start. “Our new campus has been online since early August last year. The transition went smoothly, most of the year has been smooth, but, there are always ‘hiccups’ that keep me on my toes.” She starts each day addressing any emergency needs that have cropped up. If everything is running smoothly, she starts on her own list, including hardware and software repairs on laptops, network maintenance, security camera maintenance, Google administration, online testing, campus plans, and more.
Luckily, Patricia is up to the challenge of ever-changing priorities and the need to be always alert to the next big thing. When asked what she likes most about her job, she cites the variety and changing schedule from day to day. “Each day provides an opportunity for sharing and learning.” She is excited about the challenge of integrating the 80 new Chromebooks that her district recently acquired. Like all technology roll-outs, it hasn’t been without its adjustment period. But Patricia was excited to celebrate when the computers were all up and running.
How TCEA Provides Learning without Limits
Patricia and her staff have used a number of TCEA training opportunities in the past to help them stay current and keep learning new strategies for technology advancement. She attends the System Administrator and Technical Support Conference in October and the TCEA Convention & Exposition in February. She is also involved in TEC-SIG, the special interest group just for technology directors and technology coordinators.
For additional training, Patricia had TCEA professional development staff come right to Falls City before a big technology roll-out. “We have had TCEA staff come to our district to provide Google tools and Google Classroom training in preparation so that administrators and teachers were ready for the transition.” For more information about onsite training, please see here.
Tips and Favorite Tools from an Ed Tech Master
Patricia has three pieces of advice for other tech directors looking to make big changes in their schools or districts: train your staff, look for free resources, and keep things balanced. As she explains:
Technology changes rapidly. To keep up, you have to take the initiative to constantly train up, whether or not it is required and whether or not your employer pays for it. Take advantage of as many of the freely-available training resources as you can. Then, be seen and heard! Skills and knowledge are most beneficial to you and the staff you serve when shared. Somehow… try to get home by 5:00 p.m. and on weekends so you do not miss your family’s important moments. You cannot get those moments back. Try to make and keep a balance.
Patricia also offers advice on her favorite tech tools. She’s a big fan of Google Classroom and Microsoft Classroom and encourages good training in order to “discover how their awesomeness can help teachers implement differentiated and engaging learning experiences for all their students.” Her go-to resources? “When what I need to know just isn’t covered in the two-minute videos posted on the various free sites, [I use] TCEA. Specifically, the training sessions at the SysAdmin conference, the Convention, the Microsoft Testing for certification at the Convention, and the multitude of various sessions offered throughout the year via webinar or on the TCEA campus.”
We at TCEA are so happy to have Patricia Startz as one of our committed members! To learn about other innovative educators transforming education, you can read some of our previous member spotlight posts here, here, and here. Do you know a TCEA member who deserves a little spotlighting? Email me at [email protected] to suggest a member we should brag about.