Educators visit EPISD to Learn New Tech Implementation

March 7, 2018
El Paso Herald-Post

Superintendents, principals and other administrators from throughout the country traveled to El Paso last week to learn from EPISD educators more about the New Tech Network and see in action two of EPISD’s eight successful programs.

The 30 educators attending the Leadership Residency Training are planning to implement the New Tech Network model in their school districts this fall. The training, which had for years been in Fort Wayne, Indiana, moved to El Paso to give the educators a chance to talk to the principals, teachers and students at both Rocket New Tech and Cobra Tech about outcomes and their experience with the project based learning model.

“This is their very first introduction to the model that they are about to undertake,” said Anna Kinsella, New Tech Network’s senior director of school coaching. “They’re learning about the core pillars of the New Tech design and what that means for them as leaders. We love to use schools like Cobra Tech and Rocket Tech where we can walk into classrooms to really show off what the model does for students and for teachers and how it flips learning.”

The training gave the group a better understanding of how the implementation of New Tech will change their campus, what their role is as instructional leaders and how to implement the model with staff.

“They also will be learning about the design pillars for New Tech, so they will have a deep understanding of what the four pillars looks like, which is why we want to show off Cobra New Tech and Rocket New Tech classrooms because they really helped showcase what the four pillars look like,” said Kinsella. “Lastly, we really want them to leave with clear next steps. They sort of have the rest of the semester to continue planning with their team and we want to make sure that they have a clear action plan going forward.”

Superintendent Juan Cabrera sat in on one of the sessions offering advice and fielded questions about the implementation and success of the New Tech Model in EPISD. Cabrera candidly responded, explaining how the New Tech Network evolved in EPISD and how the model intrigued him prior to becoming superintendent.

“I really wanted to break the test prep culture and I believed this was the future of education,” Cabrera told them. “All the other skills that we teach in the New Tech framework are just as important as the academic standards. I felt it was just as important to give kids a chance to develop those skills while we’re meeting the academic standards. That was sort of the impetus of the work for me.”

Cabrera also talked about the benefits of integrating the New Tech into existing traditional campuses instead of having stand-alone buildings.

“They are completely integrated in terms of extra-curricular activities and athletics. Our New
Tech students will be able to flow in and out of the traditional campuses and our teachers in those campuses can see what it’s like to approach education differently.

EPISD’s New Tech campuses are housed in Bowie, Austin and Franklin high schools and Brown and Guillen middle schools. The Young Women’s STEAM Prep, which opened this school year, also is a New Tech academy. The District’s foray into elementary New Tech will begin next year with Hart Elementary School, which will provide a pipeline of students from elementary to middle and high school in the Bowie feeder pattern.

“Honestly, our venture into New Tech has exceeded my expectations,” Cabrera told the group.

Participant Stephanie Ehler, coordinator of academic programs at Comal ISD, enjoyed her visit to El Paso and looks forward to implementing New Tech in their district this fall.

“The culture of student to student and student to teacher impressed me,” she said. “We got to sit in on a PLC with the teachers. The way they interact with each other and have protocols, timing protocols and the feedback they gave each other really showed that they lived the New Tech mission of respect and responsibility.”

The training reassured Ehler and her team that New Tech would be beneficial for their students and district.

“For us it’s been a very eye-opening experience, affirming that this is the way we need to go.”

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