President's Message by Lorrie Owens
Answering the Call
K-12 technology is not just a profession. It is a call. This is not an area cut out for everyone. In my 25 years in K-12 technology, I have seen some of the brightest technical minds come – and quickly go – because supporting education was just not what excited them. Technology excited them. But loving technology, in and of itself, is not what keeps us coming back to our schools, district offices and county offices of education every day.
When I look at the membership of CETPA, I first and foremost see people who are dedicated to education. I see professionals who chose to work in education, as opposed to much more lucrative private industry jobs, because we see, understand and deeply value the power of a quality education in our society. I see people who would rather work in the pseudo-MDFs and IDFs made from PE closets and boiler rooms than the gilded glass buildings of Silicon Valley because we know how important it is to provide our young people with rich learning environments. I see people working long hours, including nights and weekends, with no promise of a holiday bonus or a quick promotional opportunity, because we understand the importance of what happens in our classrooms every day.
Many people don’t think of technical folks as creative, but I would argue that technology professionals in K-12 are among the most creative people on the planet. We do not have the monetary resources our private industry counterparts have. But we have many of the same problems. We even have some problems technical professionals in other industries never face. We can’t always buy our way out of a dilemma; we have to create our way out. Some of the most excited conversations I’ve ever heard have been CETPA members sharing with one another how a specific problem was solved in some ingenious, low cost (or no cost) manner.
CETPA members are warriors. We fight cybercrimes with minimal weapons. We’re fighting to keep our students safe in that big space called the Internet. We fight to ensure new technologies - drones, wearable technology, 3D printing, virtual and augmented reality, and so many more – are delivered to our kids in a safe way and, above all, that they do the good they were intended to do and do not bring harm.
Whether we come from the “ED” side of the house or the “IT” side of the house, we find ourselves in the same house, working side by side, day in and day out, to enhance the educational experiences of our children through technology. Technology in education is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity for preparing students who will not only grow to maturity and lead this world well into the 21st century, but some will still be doing so as the world enters the 22nd century. The work we do today is very much building the society of both today and tomorrow. Sometimes, because we’re not always in the classroom, we can start to forget that. But the technology that we advise on, purchase, install, maintain, patch, upgrade, configure, protect – it is all the foundation of the critical work happening in every corner of our organizations. Our classrooms, superintendent’s offices, business offices, SELPAs, transportation offices, food service offices – none of them would be able to function effectively without us. The enormity of that realization is humbling.
So, as I complete my term as CETPA president, I am grateful to have served this past year in this capacity with such a dedicated group of individuals. Each one of you could be using your talents in different ways. But you answered the call. You chose to use your considerable talents to support our kids. You stepped up and leaned in at a time where our kids need folks like us more than ever. I salute you. I truly believe what we do is actually a higher calling. We not only chose it, but it also chose us. As we head into our 60th year, continue to thrive in your call.