Making A Difference through Collaboration

Chris Parker

“All of us are smarter than any one of us.” These words by Ken Blanchard repeatedly resonate for anyone acquainted with Chris Parker. As the Technology Coordinator for Gateway Regional District in Huntington, Massachusetts, Chris is a model collaborator in his quest to improve education through involvement in his own community as well as outreach to other districts. “I love networking and attending conferences,” states Parker, who realized the need for more of these opportunities in his remote area in western Massachusetts. “Conferences in Eastern Mass can be difficult to attend,” he observed.

Addressing the Need

Identifying this need led Parker to collaborate with others both in his own district and surrounding ones. In fact, he reaches beyond the Western Massachusetts boundaries to encourage educators far and wide to join his initiatives. “We have brainstormed different ways to develop our own professional learning networks through local conferences, Edcamps and informal Lunch and Learn meet ups to help each other out,” stated Chris. As a result, Chris has been instrumental in bringing the first EdCamp to Western Massachusetts and the first-ever Western Mass Googlepalooza through MassCUE. His Lunch and Learn Conferences are well-attended by others from all over the state, with different districts now hosting such events. “This first started as talking to other tech directors and people on tech coordination side of things and grew into looking at technology companies based on educational needs,” said Parker.

Vendor Collaboration

Parker and his colleagues soon found working with vendors to provide feedback on educational tools to be valuable to their own schools, as well as education as a whole. His first Lunch & Learn included a group of vendors and was attended by thirty members of technology staff from different districts. As a key member of the LanSchool Advisory and Kensington Focus Group, Parker is able to gain access to cutting edge technologies for his district. Product suggestions come directly from his teachers, giving them a voice in development of the best classroom technologies. “Vendors will often provide tools at no cost in return for suggestions for improvement,” said Chris, whose district’s contributions have resulted in innovative designs such as LanSchool Air for Google Classroom and an innovative round power strip to accommodate varied adapters.

Professional Development Efforts

Parker and his colleagues are now focused on best practices in providing professional learning to educators. Because of the distance between schools and districts in Western Massachusetts, they are working on plans to consolidate technology specific professional development through area-wide trainings. This helps to spread the cost of professional development out and allows multiple districts to take advantage of technology training opportunities.  Parker is also spearheading a technology committee in his own district comprised of eight teachers who receive advanced training in different technology areas and lead district trainings monthly for the staff. Plans are to eventually utilize these teachers in a regionalized professional development day open to other districts.

Expanding Outreach

Recognizing the need to share his experiences at a larger level, Chris presented his plan to implement 1:1 at Gateway Regional at the 2018 MassCUE Conference. In his session he shared his business plan, implementation strategies, and goals for teacher professional development in shifting classrooms to this type of learning environment. “There are many districts that are looking for a starting point so it seemed timely for me to share,” stated Parker. Chris’ involvement with MassCUE also extends to his work as a volunteer of the Development and Outreach Committee. In this role, he helps to increase and support membership. “After attending MassCUE in 2017, I started meeting more people. I thought all MassCUE did was the Conference. Since becoming more involved, I have gained a greater sense of MassCUE’s benefits.”

MassCUE is pleased to recognize Chris Parker for his passion to promote and improve technology for all educators far beyond his own district. Through his many efforts, Chris has effectively helped to meet the needs of educators everywhere.

Chris Parker is the Technology Coordinator at Gateway Regional School District in Huntington, Massachusetts. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisparkerTCO

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