I had the opportunity to speak to Michelle Carroll Smith, Superintendent of Lytle ISD, a district on the southwest side of San Antonio. I am excited to share highlights (some paraphrased) of our conversation in hopes it inspires other school leaders in our state.
Question: In what ways are you working to lead your district to actualize the Visioning Document?
Ms. Smith: My most important role is to set the vision for the district. We are working with the Schlechty Center and are in our 5th year of implementation of a 5-year strategic plan. We are currently writing our next 5-year plan that includes a community based accountability piece as well as a profile of a learner/graduate. We are focusing on What does the world of work look like in the future for our students?
In terms of technology, we have Chromebooks and iPads, 1:1 in grades 6-12, and a lot of technology in grades K-5. We are having conversations around the vision, around innovation and a culture of creativity. We are moving from a culture of standardized testing as the focus.
Question: What systems have you developed in order to meet the needs of all students and lead them to profound learning?
Ms. Smith: I am proud of our technology initiative. With 1:1 in 6-12 and lots of technology in K-5, we are able to provide individualized and customized learning experiences for our students. We are working to provide student choice and use the devices for opportunities such as researching content. We are using our learning management system, Blackboard, to provide the curriculum to our teachers at their fingertips as they design lessons. And, we have hired a Curriculum Technology Specialist to provide that kind of support.
It is important that we provide teachers with time and tools through training to design learning experiences. They have a 2nd conference period for lesson design for this reason. Intensive, hands-on instruction with a leader is something we are doing to support our teachers to design high quality learning experiences.
I appreciate Ms. Smith’s time for this conversation. Again, I am reassured of the great work happening in our state and common vision shared amongst the leadership. I challenge you to consider your responses to these questions and to share your story as a district/campus leader.
For the latest happenings in Lytle ISD, follow the district on Twitter, @LytleISD.