Ragsdale, whose background is in technology, hired Bacon as director of instructional technology in 2011, when he was still deputy superintendent.
Today, she’ll work with him again as interim chief technology officer.
“I knew that she had experience coming in and would be a benefit to the team,” Ragsdale said. “She also had the instructional side as well, which I thought was very important. Putting her in as interim chief technology officer was just the most logical decision.”
Bacon had been head of technology in Clayton County, where she spent the first 23 years of her career. She now holds the same role in the Cobb County School District, overseeing a staff of 123.
She said her vision for the role is to always focus on the classroom.
“I think technology can be an extension of the classroom,” she said.
Bacon was chosen for the position May 29, and she has named five areas she wants to work on. The first is looking at technology that can change the learning process and better tailor it to student needs. The second is helping teachers stay connected with technology and things they need to be effective. The third is assessment.
“I know Ragsdale is going to look at a lot of data,” she said. “We should want to measure those things, measure what’s important to give teachers the tools they need for having real-time data so they can look at continuous improvement throughout the school year.”
Bacon’s fourth focus area is teaching and learning. She said it’s important to have a technology infrastructure to support classroom tools. For example, the school system is working to widen its Internet bandwidth so more students can work online at the same time.
The fifth area is using technology schools already have in a more productive way.
“We aim to have more time used for instruction,” she said.
Bacon said the biggest challenge she faces as technology chief is trying to meet everyone’s needs in a timely manner in a district with 114 schools.
“You have to learn to work in those constraints,” Bacon said. “For us on this end, we can see that, but the schools are anxious to have more competing devices, more technology.”
But when you look at having to get so much technology to almost 120 schools, it seems quite a financial undertaking, she said.
Another major challenge is the constantly changing nature of technology, according to Bacon.
“What we can offer the schools today may change next week or next month and may not be available next year,” she said. “That’s one thing you have to consider in looking at some of the technology trends that are out on the horizon. A lot of people say desktop (computers) are going away, Smartboards are going away, but we have a lot invested in those right now.”
One idea Cobb schools have embraced is called Bring Your Own Technology, through which students bring their own smart phones and tablet computers to use in the classroom.
Having students bring their electronic devices from home brings with it the possibility of distractions, Bacon said, but it shouldn’t be a problem for a strong teacher.
“If you’ve got a great teacher and you have technology with each student, and that teacher is engaging and has activities planned around the curriculum, they don’t really have time to go to Twitter or Facebook,” she said. “They don’t have time to get off task. It’s the same even if students are not using technology. If the activity is engaging, the students won’t be daydreaming, talking to neighbors, passing notes or whatever the case may be. It really goes back to good teaching.”
Most of Bacon’s career was spent in Clayton County. She worked as a high school instructional technology specialist on her way up to chief information officer.
She moved to Cobb County three and a half years ago, when she was hired by Ragsdale. Now, she’ll again be head of technology.
“The bottom line is it’s about the technology that’s going into the classroom,” she said. “We have to make sure we have the infrastructure that can support that.”
Bacon said her leadership style is to practice what she preaches. She feels it’s important to lead by example, state what your goals and objectives are and move in that direction with a good team.
One person Bacon has worked closely with during her time in Cobb is Robin Lattizori, one of five area assistant superintendents and a 27-year veteran of Cobb schools.
Lattizori described Bacon as responsive and competent.
“I was principal at Dodgen Middle School before this year,” Lattizori said. “With the advances in technology over the past few years, there’s always been something new. I know Ragsdale used to be in charge of technology, and Bacon was one of the people he’d ask us to contact. She’s very good at her job — very smart and — she’s always been responsive.”