19-Aug-2019

Summer technology program recruits and engages students to embrace IT now and into their future!

Somedays it’s not easy to find the extra-ordinary in a job. Especially in the IT industry where standard operating procedure can make the job “ordinary.” During the process of reviewing our inaugural IT Vanguard Award submissions, we discovered a gentleman and his team whose work in IT for a K-12 school district shows an unsurpassed leadership style. And, after you take a glance below, you’ll agree it warranted an IT Vanguard Award!

Don Otto, Director of Technology for the Ridley School District in Folsom, PA, is viewed as an IT leader within and among his peers in the K-12 education space. His philosophy of “Student First” has been the foundation for every project he has led and what makes his job EXTRAordinary!

One-to-one device initiative a winner

Located in a suburb of Philadelphia, Ridley School District operates in a forward-thinking environment. Don’s cutting-edge philosophy and innovative approach to Student First established the district as one of the first to hand out devices to all students. Over the past 7-10 years, this one-to-one initiative and roll out strategy has been a success because, as Don notes, “…my team puts skin in the game and believes in the commitment.” This team attitude and effort has appointed Don the “get-it-done expert” on the topic among his peers within neighboring school districts.

Ridley students engaging in IT problem solving

Sure, Don and team aren’t the first to support and administer a one-to-one device program for students. But what he has done to lead the program is different! Since day one, Don has actively recruited and engaged Ridley students who have an interest in pursuing the information technology track in college and beyond into a summer tech program. The experience provides students opportunities in procuring, configuring, staging, and problem solving.

Being this involved with the students is a priority for Don and team even though it requires more time, planning and energy. They are the first to say the payout far exceeds the cost. In fact, the training and education these students gain from the summer tech program creates a positive impact: Providing the students real skills experience, all without added costs to the district’s budget.

Don Otto Ridley Schools IT Vanguard team award

Increasing IT opportunities for students

Additionally, as part of an ongoing relationship with Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, Ridley School District is looking to expand student involvement by providing more opportunities during the school day to meet today’s IT-related demands. Together, we are working with the district leadership team to review new academic offerings.

In our opinion, Don sets the bar for the best of breed IT leaders in K-12. He’s had a major impact helping approximately 30 students over the past 10 years who’ve mostly gone on to information technology career tracks in college and future IT career paths. Clearly, we need more administrators like Don Otto to ensure we produce future IT specialists and leaders in America. Learn more about Don and the other IT Vanguard Award winners here: https://itvanguardawards.com/

Tags - Education - K12

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Tracy Dupree

Ambassador of Customer Happiness, ALE, North America

Tracy Duprée is the Ambassador of Customer Happiness at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise in North America. Her passion lies in storytelling, social media and assuring all are having a good time and experience along their journey of life.

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