MARIETTA A Cobb schools executive has been named one of the top 10 department directors in the nation in 2019 by Education Technology Insights.

The magazine named Cristin Kennedy, director of the Cobb County School District’s instructional technology department, one of 10 instructional technology directors across the nation who, in the face of a growing number of challenges, were identified as most innovative.

“They must not only stay ahead of industry trends but also tap into best-in-class technology tools for the maximum benefit of students and teachers,” the magazine’s news release states. “Additionally, these leaders must also demonstrate foresight when it comes to tackling administrative and workflow challenges, security concerns and data safety. All in all, Technology Directors play a crucial role in ensuring that institutions stay aligned with the digital shift and improve student outcomes.”

Kennedy said she can’t take individual credit for the recognition. She said she is the director of a department full of staff who work together to accomplish the necessary tasks for Cobb students.

“Nationally we are recognized for the big shifts and changes that we are doing in Cobb Schools,” she said. “There a lot of districts in Georgia and nationally that are watching what we do and reach out to learn how we are making such a great impact on students.”

Kennedy said districts around the country also reach out to her department to thank them for providing training opportunities through the Cobb schools website.

“No other district has a front-facing website with resources like those provided by Cobb’s Instructional Technology team,” she said. “We are servant leaders who are always working for our students, teachers and leaders. We are always in classrooms, teaching, modeling and coaching.”

Cobb’s instructional technology department is tasked with keeping the district up to date with the latest technology resources, as well as teaching students and teachers how to use them to their highest potential and weaving them into curriculum, according to district officials.

“The Cobb Schools Instructional Technology team focuses on training educators on how to create a digital classroom so students can learn to use and master the digital tools that they will need to be future ready,” said district spokesperson Nan Kiel.

But another vital role the department has served, especially recently, is assisting the district with the rollout of its online portal, Cobb Teaching and Learning System, or CTLS, said Superintendent Chris Ragsdale.

The CTLS portal allows parents, teachers and students to see many of the same resources and practices they use in the classroom online, providing seamless collaboration between schools and families, Ragsdale said.

“CTLS is so unique as a system that all the other school districts are looking to us to implement something like it in their school system. We’re constantly entertaining school districts to come in and ... kick the tires of CTLS to see exactly how we’ve been able to accomplish it,” he said.

The department is charged with monitoring student progress throughout the year, and provides progress data to teachers on a daily basis, Ragsdale said. That data allows teachers and administrators to better understand what concepts they need to focus on more and what concepts students understand right away, saving time and improving learning.

But, Ragsdale said while Kennedy is right, it takes a village, the instructional technology director deserves credit for her expertise that has led to widespread recognition for the school district.

“She gets a lot of compliments from the schools,” he said, adding she’s deeply appreciated for her ability to see at which schools the more pressing needs lie and assign technology staff to those schools. “We don’t have enough for every school, but they are basically the boots on the ground for making sure our teachers are trained on CTLS, for example. So we get a lot of positive compliments from schools ... about how good a job that team does, and Cristin is the one heading up that team. She’s to be commended for that.”

Kiel said thanks to the instructional technology department’s training, more than 3,000 Cobb teachers and other staff have also earned Microsoft Innovative Educator certifications, which designate those trained as Microsoft and digital-savvy, as well as connected to other educators across the globe. She said Cobb has more of those certifications than any other metro Atlanta district.

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